UN chief calls on world citizens to join Earth Hour lights-off campaign

by Ricky Rillera

UNITED NATIONS (Xinhua) — UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has called on people all over the world to join the Earth Hour campaign on Saturday night by switching off lights for an hour as a way to demand action on climate change.

In a videotaped address on the website of Earth Hour, the secretary-general said the lights-off campaign “promises to be the largest demonstration of public concern about climate change ever attempted.”

He said the United Nations will join in observing Earth Hour at its headquarters in New York and at other facilities around the world as part of an effort to mobilize global support for a new UN agreement to address climate change when governments meet in Copenhagen in December.

“Earth Hour is a way for the citizens of the world to send a clear message,” Ban said. “They want action on climate change.”

Earth Hour, launched two years ago in Sydney, Australia by the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF), the global conservation organization, calls on people, communities and cities to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour starting at 8:30 p.m. local time.

Close to a billion people from more than 2,000 towns and cities in 84 countries are currently expected to take part in this year’s event.

The global call for action is directed to negotiators who need to reach agreement on a new global deal on climate change at a UN climate conference in Copenhagen in December. The last global accord, the Kyoto Protocol, is set to expire in 2012.

“We need an ambitious agreement. An agreement that is fair and effective. An agreement based on sound science,” Ban said.

The Earth Hour event will take place one week after the vernal equinox, when night and day are the same duration in both hemispheres, which ensures that it will be nighttime for all people, wherever they are at 8:30 in the evening.

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