Lights out across Asia as world begins Earth Hour

Millions of Delhiites on switched off lights in their houses for an hour, joining the world in observing the Earth Hour to call for a binding pact to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

New Delhi: Millions of Delhiites on switched off lights in their houses for an hour, joining the world in observing the Earth Hour to call for a binding pact to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

City`s famous heritage structures -- Red Fort, Humayun`s Tomb and other buildings of importance -- also fell into darkness from 8:30 PM to 9:30 PM and denizens switched off lights and fans in their homes.

Several shopping malls, hotels, educational institutions and major markets also observed the event marked across major cities of the world on the last Saturday of March annually to pledge support for protecting the environment.

With almost 50 million supporters across the globe and a network in over 100 countries, the annual Earth Hour initiative, organised by World Wide Fund for Nature, has emerged as one of the largest global campaigns to combat climate change.

However, many of the cricket buffs did not observe Earth Hour as they were not willing to miss IPL matches.

Pledging its support to the initiative, the city government had started a campaign asking people to observe the event by switching off all the lights and electrical appliances for an hour on Sunday.

Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, herself a strong votary of eco-friendly measures, participated in an event at the lawns of the India Gate and switched off the lights there at 8:30 PM.

"I can assure you that all the households can have romantic candle light dinners sitting at their homes on March 27," Dikshit had said at a function organised by WWF in New Delhi.

City Discoms BSES and NDPL had appealed to their consumers to observe the event.

A BSES spokesman said a total of 169 MW of electricity was saved during the one hour.

He said while 96 MW was saved in areas under BSES Rajdhani, BSES Yamuna areas saved 69 MW of electricity.

An official of the InterContinental Hotels Group said the hotel encouraged in-house guests to switch off lights in their rooms and join the `guestogether` parties being hosted by them between 8:30 PM and 9:30 PM.

Started in Sydney in Australia in 2007, the Earth Hour had become a global event in 2008 with participation of 35 countries.

India joined the Earth Hour campaign last year. Delhi alone had saved 700 MW of power by supporting the campaign.

In 2009, millions of people took part in the third Earth Hour. Over 4,000 cities in 88 countries had switched off lights to pledge their support for saving the planet.

Tuvalu to Taiwan; nations switch off for Earth Hour

Landmarks such as Sydney`s Opera House, Beijing`s Forbidden City and Taiwan`s Taipei 101 office tower temporarily went dark on Saturday as nations dimmed the lights for Earth Hour 2010 to call for action on climate change.

The symbolic one-hour switch-off, first held in Sydney in 2007, has become an annual global event and organizers World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said they expect this year`s to be the biggest so far.

The remote Chatham Islands was the first of more than 100 nations and territories to turn off the power at 8.30 p.m. local time, in a rolling event around the globe that ends just across the International Dateline in Samoa 24 hours later.

Tiny Tuvalu, which fears being wiped off the map from rising sea levels, tried to go carbon-neutral for the event, pledging to cut power to its nine low-lying Pacific atolls and asking car and motorcycle owners to stay off the roads, WWF said.

Far to the south in Antarctica, Australia`s Davis research station pledged to dim the lights.

Event co-founder Andy Ridley told Reuters that 126 countries and territories had so far signed up, with thousands of special events scheduled, including a lights-out party on Sydney`s northern beaches and an Earth Hour `speed dating` contest.

The number of participants is significantly up on 2009, when 88 countries and territories and more than 4,000 towns and cities took part. Organizers have estimated between 500 million and 700 million people were involved last year.

In Singapore, more than 1,000 people gathered for an Earth Hour carnival in the city center to watch the lights go out at office towers, hotels and other landmarks.

However, lights could still be seen from some buildings and construction sites, disappointing some in the crowd.

With agency inputs