Earth Hour 2012 Sweeps the World Participation from Chinese Cities Reaches New High
Beijing, March 30th – The world’s largest voluntary environmental initiative, Earth Hour, is reaching a new level once again. With one day to go until the Earth Hour, a record 147 countries and territories are preparing to send a united message that now is the time to take action for the planet.
Hundreds of landmarks across more than 5000 cities and towns will go dark on Saturday at 8:30PM local time, with Libya, Algeria, Bhutan and French Guinea among those participating for the first time.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced that the UN Headquarters in New York will turn off its lights for an hour, in solidarity with the 20% of the world’s population who live without electricity. Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, also announced her official support for Earth Hour and called for all UNESCO World Heritage sites to switch off their lights on March 31st.
But it isn’t just the United Nations supporting Earth Hour. The event has also gained the support of former US Vice-President Al Gore, the President of Fiji Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, astronaut Andre Kuipers and the International Space Station, FIFA, UEFA and even Manchester United football club among others.
“Each and every one of us plays an important role in making a difference to the world we live in. As the lights go off around globe tomorrow, celebrate your commitment to the planet and inspire those around you to take action,” said Earth Hour co-founder and Executive Director Andy Ridley.
Usually the last country to go dark, Samoa has crossed the International Date Line and this year will kick off the lights-off event as it traverses the globe over a 24-hour period. The last switch off event will wrap up in the Cook Islands.
Famous landmarks including Beijing Badaling Great Wall, New York’s Times Square, Paris’ Eiffel Tower, Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa, London’s Big Ben, the Sydney Opera House and the Tokyo Tower will all go dark for one hour on the evening of the 31st .
The number of Chinese cities taking part in Earth Hour has also reached a new all-time high. As of March 30th , a total of 124 cities all over China had signed up for Earth Hour and publicised their environmental promises:
- Hubei province: 16 cities including Wuhan and Huangshi promise to introduce a pollutant discharge permit system, improve and implement an emissions reduction system, early warning system , as well as a regional restricted approval mechanism, accountability system and one-ballot veto. They will also ensure that total emissions of sulfur dioxide, chemical oxygen demand (COD) and ammonia nitrogen will decrease by 2%, 1.5% and 1.5% respectively compared to 2011 levels.
- Qinghai province: 8 cities and prefectures including Xining and Haidong promise to strengthen environmental protection and pollution prevention, protect biodiversity and guarantee high quality of water in the "three river sources" area.
- Liaoning province: 14 cities including Shenyang and Dalian promise that the main stream and 10 principal tributaries of the Liao River should meet Grade IV national water quality standard, with other tributaries reaching Grade V standard.
- Shanghai city: the city has promised to continue with the creation of 1000 hectares of new green space and continue with a pilot scheme for waste separation in 1000 residential areas and work units.
- Shijiazhuang city: the first Chinese city to register participation will keep the annual average levels of sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide and particulate matter to Grade II standard, notably improving air quality.
- Yangzhou city: the 11th day of every month will be a no driving day for the government (this includes government-owned cars and the private cars of government employees), except when official, special business is involved. Meanwhile, Yangzhou will also carry out a “No Driving Today” campaign to motivate all car owners to drive one day less per week.
Many iconic buildings are also taking part in Earth Hour:
- The Badaling Great Wall, Beijing’s tallest building the China World Trade Center Tower 3, and the Olympic Park’s Bird’s Nest Stadium, Water Cube and Linglong Pagoda will all be turning their lights off for an hour this evening.
- The People’s Square area in Shanghai, including Municipal Government building, Shanghai Museum and City Planning Exhibition Hall, along with all the County Government buildings, will all turn off all non-essential lighting for an hour. In addition, the Lujiazui Financial District (including the Oriental Pearl, Jin Mao Tower, World Trade Center and Aurora Plaza), Jing’an District (including Jing’an Temple, the Paramount and Jiuguang Department Store) and the Shanghai Expo site (the Expo Axis, the Expo Centre, the Mercedes-Benz Cultural Centre, the Expo Exhibition Centre and the China National Pavilion) are also taking part in the switch-off.
- From Wuhan’s Yellow Crane Tower to the Pavilion of Prince Teng in Nanchang, and from Xi’an’s Big Wild Goose Pagoda to Changsha’s Tianxin Pavilion, many famous landmarks are turning off their lights for Earth Hour.
Meanwhile, over 1400 companies have registered their participation in Earth Hour, and many businesses, celebrities and media groups are all making their own environmental promises that go beyond Earth Hour:
- Groups within the business community are promising to advance their own sustainable development.
o In 2012, men’s clothing firm Marccasne will devote itself to using natural cotton and linen fabrics — at least 60% of its products will contain these natural fabrics; Marccasnewill make 80% of its trousers without severe washing (distressing), and paper-based accessories will be 100% eco-friendly.
o Vanke Group will practice community-based sustainable garbage separation and recycling, involving 300,000 households in 200 communities in over 30 cities.
o Haier will follow a “green strategy,” of producing green products, building a green company, and cultivating a green corporate culture. Haier aims to create a healthy and comfortable environment for its customers and achieve a harmonious relationship between enterprise, humanity, and nature through technological innovation, energy conservation and emissions reduction.
o In 2012, Mengniu Dairy Group will package 5 billion containers of milk using FSC-certified packaging; generate 10 million kWh of electricity through biogas and purify 15 million tons of sewage through green production.
- WWF’s Earth Hour Ambassadors Li Bingbing, Yu Quan and Li Yuchun have all made their own environmental promises and called on their fans to make their own changes for the planet. International Radio host Ya Jie, Basketball player Stephon Marbury, singer Li Xiaoyun, actors Huang Haibo and actress Zhang Xinyi have also joined up to Earth Hour as celebrity volunteers.
- Earth Hour’s strategic media partner The Travel Channel have promised to continue working towards a “zero-carbon” model; at the end of every programme the total emissions caused by the making of the show will be displayed along with a promise to continue working towards “zero carbon.”
Invitation from the Earth Hour Stars: http://www.earthhour.org.cn/downloadFour.html
Earth Hour Ambassador Andre Kuipers’ Blog: http://blogs.esa.int/andre-kuipers/?lang=en
For further information:
Zeng Ming, Head of Press, WWF China
Tel:+86 (0)10 65116298, firstname.lastname@example.org