Earth Hour 2016

Earth-Hour-2016“As the world stands at a climate crossroads, it is powerful yet humbling to think that our actions today will decide what tomorrow will look like for generations to come.” Saturday 19th March at 08:30 pm local time is Earth Hour, a worldwide grassroots movement organised by WWF, which originally began as a lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007. Since then this annual global celebration where people switch off their lights for one hour has become a symbolic display of how much we care for and want to protect the planet. Last year a record number of people from across 172 countries celebrated Earth Hour.

A recent article from WWF outlining climate events of 2015, makes it clear that Earth Hour this year is crucial to continued progress on climate change. Firstly changes in our climate continue to be worrying: 2015 became the official hottest year on record, winter sea ice in the Arctic reached a record low and the haze crisis brought about by illegal slash-and-burn methods to clear land for palm oil and paper production hit Southeast Asia. But there is also significant progress being made in policy that needs to be celebrated but also built upon: the “Well-being of Future Generations” bill passed by Wales, the 114 companies who committed to reduce emissions on the sidelines of COP21, the 1000 mayors who committed to 100% renewable energy and of course the Paris Climate Agreement.

This year’s Earth Hour is asking everyone to become part of ending climate change, promoting awareness of climate action by donating your social power, and driving forward the #ChangeClimateChange movement. Various activities are happening around the world for Earth Hour from shining a light on the need to protect peatlands to reduce the region’s haze crisis in Indonesia. Singapore and Malaysia, to banning plastic in Cyprus and asking Australians to help protect the #PlacesWeLove. In the UK, WWF is asking people to become more aware of the impacts of the food they eat and to ensure that our diets are healthy for ourselves and the planet. Luckily many foods that are good for us are also better for the earth, as this article shows.

Meanwhile in Africa, WWF in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zimbabwe are using Earth Hour to build awareness of the impacts of climate change on the continent and the role people can play in climate action. Such action and awareness is critical following a recent study on “the timescale of how projected climate change is set to alter the face of agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa”. Conducted by the CGIAR research programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), the study assessed when areas growing nine of Sub-Saharan Africa’s staple crops would need to undergo a “transformational adaptation”, such as switching from crops to livestock farming instead. Three crops in particular, beans, maize and bananas were more unstable and required transformational adaptation on larger amounts of land. For example 60% of the area of beans required transformation under a high warming scenario of +3.0C due to a climate ill-suited to growing these crops. The report did find, however, that technological solutions such as climate-smart crops meant the level and scope of transformation could be minimised, and as such a recommendation of the study was the need to increase access to such technologies in Africa so as “to maximise the options available to farmers to cope with projected climatic changes”. More worryingly a study, published in The Lancet, found that climate change could potentially be responsible for over 500,000 deaths by 2050.

While we may not individually have the power to halt climate change we can combine our efforts, support and voices to drive momentum and make a real difference. Click here to donate your feed for Earth Hour.


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