Environmentalists hail Earth Hour as success

Monday, March 30, 2009
The Eiffel Tower is shown just after the 20,000 bulbs illuminating the tower went out Saturday, March 28, 2009 at 8.90 p.m for five minutes. The City of Lights went dim when thousands of Parisians joined in an hour "lights-out" campaign aimed at showing citizens concern over climate change. (AP Photo/ Thibault Camus)

BONN, Germany -- For environmental activists, the message was clear: Earth Hour was a huge success.

Now they say nations have a mandate to tackle climate change.

"The world said yes to climate action, now governments must follow," the World Wildlife Fund said Sunday, a day after hundreds of millions of people worldwide followed its call to turn off lights for a full hour.

From an Antarctic research base and the Great Pyramids of Egypt, from the Colosseum in Rome to the Empire State Building in New York, illuminated patches of the globe went dark Saturday night to highlight the threat of climate change. Time zone by time zone, nearly 4,000 cities and towns in 88 countries dimmed nonessential lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

WWF called the event, which began in Australia in 2007 and grew last year to 400 cities worldwide, "the world's first-ever global vote about the future of our planet."

The United Nations' top climate official, Yvo de Boer, called the event a clear sign that the world wants negotiators seeking a climate change agreement to set an ambitious course to fight global warming.

Talks in Bonn this week are the latest round in an effort to craft a deal to control emissions of the heat-trapping gases responsible for global warming. They are due to culminate in Copenhagen this December.

-- AP

"Earth Hour was probably the largest public demonstration on climate change ever," de Boer told delegates from 175 nations. "Its aim was to tell every government representative to seal a deal in Copenhagen. The world's concerned citizens have given the negotiations an additional and very clear mandate."

Earth Hour officially began when the Chatham Islands, 500 miles (800 kilometers) east of New Zealand, switched off its diesel generators. It moved on through Asia, Europe and then crossed the Atlantic to North and South America.

"Earth Hour has always been a positive campaign," said Earth Hour executive director Andy Ridley. "It's always around street parties, not street protests, it's the idea of hope, not despair. And I think that's something that's been incredibly important this year because there is so much despair around."

Associated Press writers around the world contributed to this report.

On the Net:

Earth Hour: http://www.earthhour.org

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Earth Hour video: http://sn.im/enqwn

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