Since its modest inception as a city event in Sydney in 2007 to increase consciousness about climate change, Earth Hour has grown into one of the largest global environmental campaigns in the world. It has, in fact, come to encompass more than 7,000 cities across 150 participating countries.
The message for this mass movement is simple — for individuals, organisations and governments to act against climate change by switching off non-essential lights for one hour from 8.30pm to 9.30pm.
Earth Hour provides a unique opportunity for collective action aimed at doing something positive for the environment. It is not just about saving energy for that one hour, but it symbolises the first step in the path to adopting environment-friendly practices and habits in everyday life. The focus of this year’s campaign has been to introduce and raise awareness about renewable energy solutions as an upcoming and practical option available to move towards a sustainable lifestyle.
WWF-India joined the Earth Hour movement in 2009, inspiring 120 private and public sector organisations, spanning 56 Indian cities, to take part. This figure increased nearly three times by 2012, when 150 cities in India joined this campaign to promote resource-efficient, sustainable lifestyles. As is characteristic of its work, WWF has conducted scientific and technically-sound studies of complex issues such as this, while simultaneously attempting to generate awareness and garner support through its campaigns. Through these efforts a platform has been created, for private and public actors alike, to undertake various environment-friendly initiatives.
Every year, WWF receives a wide range of supporters for the Earth Hour India chapter. For instance, this year ING Vysya Bank, continuing its association with Earth Hour for the fifth year, has committed to light up villages in Orissa by using renewable energy. Fifty villages in the state will be covered during the course of this year-long initiative. ITC hotels have taken its annual commitment — to switch off non-essential lights in its hotels — even further. There are now weekly observances of reduced non-essential power usage across ITC hotels. The savings on their electricity bills as a result of this practice have also been significant.
Outreach for this event, however, does not stop at organisations and multi-national corporations. Endorsing the spirit behind Earth Hour, many state governments have decided to switch off the lights of some monuments and historic landmarks, such as the Mysore Palace, India Gate and Gateway of India. Last year, Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Prime Minister’s residence also dimmed lights in support. Public figures that are idolised and looked up to by the masses are involving themselves in the movement too.
The national face for Earth Hour 2013 is Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn who pledged his support in Mumbai yesterday. Olympic boxer Mary Kom has also lent her face to the 2013 campaign. Over the years, the movement has decentralised, with support for it having swelled across the country.
Local celebrities, like Telugu actor Shruti Hassan, Tamil actor Jiiva, former cricketer Venkatesh Prasad, and Bengali actor Parambrata, have also echoed the Earth Hour message for 2013.
Earth Hour is witnessing an outpouring of support from individuals and the general public. The unprecedented turnout for the Delhi cyclothon is indicative of this. The cyclothon is organised in Delhi every year as the signature lead-up event to Earth Hour. On 16 March 2013, over five hundred cyclists — citizens of Delhi — came forward to show their commitment to the environment. Citizens are clearly recognising and imbibing the values behind Earth Hour, and it is steadily taking the shape of a self-perpetuating movement.
Following the cyclothon, WWF and HSBC Canara Oriental Bank of Commerce organised the Earth Hour Fair at the cultural and handicraft hub of the city — Dilli Haat. This exhibition-cum-sale had on display recycled products and solar-powered home appliances, which can be used every day at home. Simply put, development and sustainability need to go hand in hand.
Mainstreaming sustainable lifestyle practices and strengthening public support requires coordination between several actors, including governments across all levels, the private sector, NGOs, civil society. Change will come through a long-term commitment, but now is the time to accelerate action. While the scope of the challenge is large, innovative ways to engage citizens and inspire action go a long way in creating a more aware and responsible society.
Earth Hour is one such movement that has moved beyond symbolism into a self-perpetuating initiative that aims to drive this message home.
Updates about the event:
WWF-India Maharashtra State Office conducted a signature campaign at Ruia college, Matunga on March 21, 2013.
NCC will be conducting awareness rally on 23rd March from 9am to 10:30am at Churchgate. Dr Shreya will address the participants after the rally gets over.
On March 23, 2013, MSO in collaboration with Green Line NGO and Parle Agro will be conducting a candle light rally in Matunga. This will start from Don Bosco School at 8:30pm-9:30pm.
Mayor of Mumbai City Sunil Prabhu will be also be present at the event for inauguration. We are also going to have aoustic band performance from 8:15pm at the same place.
Young Environmentalist Trust is organising a solar lit vigil at Meluha the fern on March 23 from 7:30pm.
Godrej & Boyce, Vikhroli will be organising the Anand Mela during Earth Hour. They will be putting up some stalls.
Shraddhanand Mahilashram, Matunga will participate in EH by organising get-together in one room and switching off rest of the lights.
Courtyard Marriott is switching off and they will be serving candle light dinner to their guests.
The Green India in collaboration with Orchid Hotel will be organising candle light dinner during Earth Hour.
Monuments that will observe Earth Hour - Mumbai CST administration building, The Taj, The Trident , MCGM Head office, Gate Way of India and Oberoi Mall.
The candle light rally at Don Bosco School, Matunga will follow this programme:
8.00 pm Welcome
8.05 pm Presentation by Rev. Fr. Savio Silveira, Director Greenline Organisation
8.15 pm Acoustic Band presentation
8.25 pm Ceremonial Candle lit and address to EH supporters by Hon. Mayor of Mumbai Mr. Sunil Prabhu
8.30 pm Rally flag off
9.00 pm Flash Mob in front of Kooler and Co. Cafe, Matunga
9.25 pm Vote of Thanks