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First New Zealand City To Commit To Earth Hour

Thursday 21 February 2008

Christchurch Becomes First New Zealand City To Commit To Earth Hour

Prime Minister shows support for Christchurch's leadership on climate change as city pledges 'lights out' for Earth Hour, 8pm, 29 March 2008

Christchurch is the first New Zealand city to commit to Earth Hour, a global movement that will see millions of people and businesses in cities around the world turning out their lights for one hour on Saturday March 29 at 8pm, to show their commitment to fighting climate change.

Prime Minister Helen Clark will join leaders of Christchurch's community at the Christchurch Art Gallery today (Thursday 21 February) at 12 noon to mark the city's commitment to Earth Hour and to taking action on climate change. Earth Hour is a WWF-led initiative which uses the simple action of turning off the lights for one hour to deliver a powerful message about the need for action on global warming.

The event demonstrates the power and importance of people taking simple steps everyday that collectively reduce carbon emissions – from businesses turning off their lights when their offices are empty to households turning off appliances rather than leaving them on standby. It shows that together, small actions – like switching off a light – add up to a big difference. Earth Hour will see Christchurch's iconic buildings, such as Christchurch Cathedral and the red neon sign of The Press, plunged into darkness for sixty minutes.

At today's launch event, Helen Clark will meet with people from Christchurch, including children from The Cathedral Grammar Pre-school, to commend the city's commitment to Earth Hour. At the event, Bob Parker, Mayor of Christchurch, and Chris Howe, Executive Director of WWF-New Zealand, will ask all Christchurch residents and businesses to commit to Earth Hour by turning out their lights for one hour on March 29 at 8pm. People will be invited to commit to Earth Hour at www.earthhour.org.

Commenting, WWF-New Zealand Executive Director Chris Howe said: "I'm excited about the strong leadership that Christchurch is showing by committing to Earth Hour and I commend all the people involved in making Earth Hour happen here, particularly Christchurch City Council, Environment Canterbury, Orion Energy and The Press. Climate change is the most significant threat to life on earth. Fighting climate change and rising to the challenge is our shared responsibility. Earth Hour is about inspiring people to take a stand on climate change, and through the simple act of turning out the lights for sixty minutes, showing that together, we make a difference.

"I'm delighted Christchurch is leading the way and I'd encourage all New Zealanders who are concerned about climate change to join with the people of Christchurch, and with people in cities around the world, to celebrate Earth Hour by switching off your lights at 8pm on Saturday 29 March for one hour."

Earth Hour was pioneered in Sydney in 2007 when 2.2 million Sydney-siders and over 1,100 Sydney businesses turned off their lights, plunging iconic buildings and landmarks such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House into darkness for sixty minutes.

This year Earth Hour has become a global movement, gaining worldwide momentum with cities from San Francisco to Copenhagen set to turn off their lights for Earth Hour. To date, 24 cities have committed to Earth Hour.

Due to New Zealand's position on the globe, Christchurch will be the first of the Earth Hour cities to celebrate Earth Hour in 2008 along with Suva, Fiji. Celebrations on the night in Christchurch are set to include a free candle-lit acoustic music performance and community-led Earth Hour parties. Details of Earth Hour events will be announced through the official Earth Hour media partner, The Press, and online at www.earthhour.org.

Along with turning out the lights for Earth Hour, the night will mark the city's commitment to reducing its carbon emissions by five per cent in the first year of Earth Hour.

Bob Parker, Mayor of Christchurch said: "Earth Hour aims to create a much greater awareness of the pending threat of climate change. We need to see the challenge of climate change as an opportunity for us to make changes in our lifestyles for the benefit of our environment. Christchurch is stepping up to the challenge and proving that we as a city and individuals can make a difference.

"The City Council is already leading the way in creating a more sustainable city. In September 2007 we became the first council in New Zealand to write and adopt a Sustainable Energy Strategy. The document sets an action plan which will lead our community towards a more sustainable future. By adopting a wide range of energy saving policies and projects, the City Council has reduced its energy use by 30 per cent over the last decade. We are breaking new ground in terms of energy efficiency and the people of Christchurch should be heartened by the good work so far."

Hon Sir Kerry Burke, Chairman Environment Canterbury said: "Since 1982 our energy consumption in Canterbury has risen at an average of 2.6% each year. As a community and as individuals we need to consider how we reconcile this increasing usage and the retention of a great environment. Earth Hour is a chance for us all to stop and think twice about the energy we each consume and whether we can cut back."

Commenting on the impact of Earth Hour, Andrew Holden, editor of The Press said: "This is not a token effort for just 60 minutes. It will be a demonstration by the people of Christchurch that we care for our environment, we are prepared to debate the issues and learn what it is that each of us can do. It is simply the start."

You can commit to switching your lights out for Earth Hour by registering online at www.earthhour.org to receive news and information about the night's events, along with information on how to cut your carbon emissions. Everyone who wants to show their support for Earth Hour, from businesses and community groups through to individuals, can download and use the Earth Hour logo, web banners and posters at www.press.co.nz/earthhour free of charge.

LIST OF CITIES PARTICIPATING IN EARTH HOUR 2008

1. Christchurch, New Zealand 2. Melbourne, Australia 3. Chicago, USA 4. Toronto, Canada 5. Tel Aviv, Israel 6. Copenhagen, Denmark 7. Manila, Philippines 8. Suva, Fiji 9. Aarhus, Denmark 10. Brisbane, Australia 11. Aalborg, Denmark 12. Sydney, Australia 13. Perth, Australia 14. Odense, Denmark 15. Canberra, Australia 16. San Francisco, USA 17. Adelaide, Australia 18. Phoenix, USA 19. Atlanta, USA 20. Bangkok, Thailand 21. Ottawa, Canada 22. Vancouver, Canada 23. Montreal, Canada 24. Dublin, Ireland

-ENDS-

About Earth Hour Christchurch

Earth Hour is a community event, led by WWF-New Zealand and The Press, and supported by Christchurch City Council, Environment Canterbury and Orion Energy, amongst others. It has the backing of ChristChurch Cathedral and the Employers Chamber of Commerce. All people and businesses can take part in Earth Hour by switching off their lights for one hour at 8pm on 29 March 2008. During Earth Hour people and businesses are also invited to turn off appliances from standby.

About WWF

WWF is the world's largest and most experienced independent conservation organization. It has close to five million supporters and a global network active in more than 100 countries. WWF's mission is to stop the degradation of the planet's natural environment and to build a future in which humans live in harmony with nature.

ENDS

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