STARTING from humble beginnings when a group of Australian World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) supporters switched off their lights in 2007 as a gesture of solidarity with the planet, Earth Hour has become an event which is celebrated all over the world.
In 2016, Earth Hour will be commemorated on March 19 when people are asked to turn off all unnecessary lights between 8.30pm and 9.30pm local time wherever they are. This is considered to be an important symbolic expression of support for the fight against climate change.
Major landmarks such as the Sydney Opera House, Eifel Tower, Tower of Big Ben and the Empire State Building will be joined by the Moorish Castle and the North Face of the Rock when they are plunged into darkness. In the case of Gibraltar, rather than just being blacked out for one hour, those two iconic landmarks will be kept dark for the entire weekend.
The Minister for the Environment and Climate Change the Hon. Dr John Cortes has urged the community to support Earth Hour by switching off all non-essential lighting during that hour and his department has contacted shops and offices around Gibraltar asking that they do the same provided it is safe to do so.
Organisers suggest that a candlelight dinner might be a good way to show support for the event, provided that 100 per cent beeswax candles or soy candles, which are gentler on our planet, smoke free, non-toxic and non-allergenic, are used. They are also made of natural products, not petroleum-based materials, so they are effectively carbon neutral.
Ironically, as a safer measure, the Earth Hour organisers also suggest the use of LED lights instead of candles although that rather seems to nullify the whole point of the activity!