FAQ

What is Earth Hour?

Earth Hour is a WWF initiative where individuals, businesses and governments turn off their lights for one hour to show their support for action on climate change. Earth Hour is a symbolic event designed to engage people from all walks of life in the climate change discussion to send a strong message to our political leaders that we want them to take meaningful action on climate change. We are encouraging you to turn your lights off during Earth Hour to cast your vote for the Earth.

The largest climate event in history where millions of people around the world will unite by turning off their lights for one hour, Earth Hour, to demand action on the climate crisis. This year we are focusing our attentions on the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. This conference, to be held in December 2009, will create a post-Kyoto Protocol international agreement to tackle climate change. This is the world's best hope for coordinated and meaningful action on climate change. We need world leaders to take a brave stand and agree to make deep cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

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When is Earth Hour?

Earth Hour 2009 takes place on Saturday, March 28, 2009 at 8:30 pm-local time. Just like New Years Eve, Earth Hour will travel from time zone to time zone starting at 8:30pm in New Zealand.

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Which Australian councils are participating?

So far, the following cities and councils have signed up:

  • NSW
  • Albury City Council
  • Armidale Dumaresq Council
  • Ashfield City Council
  • Auburn Council
  • Ballina Shire Council
  • Bankstown City Council
  • Bathurst Regional Council
  • Bega Valley Shire Council
  • Blacktown City Council
  • Blue Mountains City Council
  • Bogan Shire Council
  • Botany Bay City Council
  • Broken Hill City Council
  • Burwood Council
  • Byron Shire Council
  • Camden Council
  • Campbelltown City Council
  • Canterbury City Council
  • Cessnock City Council
  • City of Canada Bay Council
  • City of Ryde
  • City of Sydney
  • Clarence Valley Council
  • Coffs Harbour City Council
  • Cowra Council
  • Dubbo City Council
  • Gosford City Council
  • Goulburn Mulwaree Council
  • Great Lakes Council
  • Greater Taree City Council
  • Griffith City Council
  • Hawkesbury City Council
  • Holroyd City Council
  • Hornsby Shire Council
  • Hunter's Hill Council
  • Hurstville City Council
  • Kiama Council
  • Kogarah Council
  • Ku-ring-gai Council
  • Lake Macquarie City Council
  • Lane Cove Council
  • Leeton Shire Council
  • Leichhardt Council
  • Lismore City Council
  • Lithgow City Council
  • Liverpool City Council
  • Maitland City Council
  • Manly City Council
  • Marrickville Council
  • Moree Plains Shire Council
  • Mosman Municipal Council
  • Newcastle City Council
  • North Sydney Council
  • Parramatta City Council
  • Penrith City Council
  • Pittwater Council
  • Port Macquarie-Hastings Council
  • Port Stephens Council
  • Queanbeyan City Council
  • Randwick City Council
  • Rockdale City Council
  • Shellharbour City Council
  • Shoalhaven City Council
  • Strathfield Municipal Council
  • Tamworth Regional Council
  • The Hills Shire Council
  • Tumut Shire Council
  • Wagga Wagga City Council
  • Warringah Council
  • Waverley Council
  • Wellington Shire Council
  • Willoughby City Council
  • Wollondilly Shire Council
  • Wollongong City Council
  • Woollahra Municipal Council
  • Yass Valley Council
  • QLD
  • Banana Shire Council
  • Boulia Shire Council
  • Brisbane City Council
  • Burdekin Shire Council
  • Cairns Regional Council
  • Cassowary Coast Regional Council
  • Cloncurry Shire Council
  • Diamantina Shire Council
  • Fraser Coast Regional Council
  • Gladstone Regional Council
  • Gold Coast City Council
  • Gympie Regional Council
  • Hinchinbrook Shire Council
  • Ipswich City Council
  • Isaac Regional Council
  • Lockyer Valley Regional Council
  • Logan City Council
  • Longreach Regional Council
  • Mackay Regional Council
  • McKinlay Shire Council
  • Moreton Bay Regional Council
  • North Burnett Regional Council
  • Redlands City Council
  • Rockhampton Regional Council
  • Scenic Rim Regional Council
  • Sunshine Coast Regional Council
  • Tablelands Regional Council
  • Toowoomba Regional Council
  • Townsville City Council
  • Whitsunday Regional Council
  • Winton Shire Council
  • Woorabinda Aboriginal Shire Council
  • Wujal Wujal Aboriginal Shire Council
  • VIC
  • Ballarat City Council
  • Banyule City Council
  • Baw Baw Shire Council
  • Benalla Rural City Council
  • Boroondara City Council
  • Brimbank City Council
  • Buloke Shire Council
  • City of Bayside
  • City of Greater Bendigo
  • City of Greater Geelong
  • City of Kingston
  • City of Melbourne
  • City of Monash
  • City of Port Phillip
  • City of Stonnington
  • City of Whitehorse
  • City of Wodonga
  • Colac Otway Shire Council
  • City of Greater Dandenong
  • Darebin Council
  • East Gippsland Shire Council
  • Frankston City Council
  • Glen Eira City Council
  • Golden Plains Shire Council
  • Greater Shepparton City Council
  • Hindmarsh Shire Council
  • Hobsons Bay City Council
  • Indigo Shire Council
  • Knox City Council
  • Manningham City Council
  • Maribyrnong City Council
  • Maroondah City Council
  • Melton Shire Council
  • Mildura Rural City Council
  • Mitchell Shire Council
  • Moonee Valley City Council
  • Moorabool Shire Council
  • Moreland City Council
  • Mornington Peninsula Shire
  • Mount Alexander Shire Council
  • Moyne Shire Council
  • Nillumbik Shire Council
  • Northern Grampians Shire Council
  • South Gippsland Shire Council
  • Strathbogie Shire Council
  • Surf Coast Shire Council
  • Swan Hill Rural City Council
  • Warrnambool City Council
  • Wellington Shire Council
  • Wyndham City Council
  • Yarra Ranges Shire Council
  • Yarriambiack Shire Council
  • SA
  • Adelaide City Council
  • Adelaide Hills Council
  • Alexandrina Council
  • Campbelltown City Council
  • City of Burnside
  • City of Charles Sturt
  • City of Marion
  • City of Mitcham

  • City of Mount Gambier
  • City of Norwood Payneham and St Peters
  • City of Onkaparinga
  • City of Playford
  • City of Port Lincoln
  • City of Prospect
  • City of Tea Tree Gully
  • City of Unley
  • City of West Torrens
  • District Council of Grant
  • District Council of Mount Barker
  • City of Holdfast Bay
  • Mid Murray Council
  • Rural City of Murray Bridge
  • Town of Gawler
  • Walkerville Town Council
  • Wakefield Regional Council
  • TAS
  • Brighton Council
  • Central Coast Council
  • Dorset Council
  • Glenorchy City Council
  • Hobart City Council
  • Kentish Council
  • King Island Council
  • Kingborough Council
  • Latrobe Council
  • Launceston City Council
  • NT
  • Alice Springs Town Council 
  • Barkly Shire Council
  • Belyuen Community Government Council
  • Central Desert Shire Council
  •  
  • Coomalie Community Government Council
  • Darwin City Council 
  • East Arnhem Shire Council 
  • Katherine Town Council 

  • Litchfield Council 
  • MacDonnell Shire Council
  • Palmerston City Council
  • Roper Gulf Shire Council 
  • Tiwi Islands Shire Council
  • Victoria Daly Shire Council 
  • Wagait Shire Council 
  • West Arnhem Shire Council 
  •  
  • ACT
  • ACT Government
  • WA
  • Augusta-Margaret River Shire Council
  • Brookton Shire Council
  • Broome Shire Council
  • Bruce Rock Shire Council
  • City of Bayswater
  • City of Belmont
  • City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder
  • City of Mandurah
  • City of Nedlands
  • City of Perth
  • City of South Perth
  • City of Subiaco
  • Claremont Town Council
  • Cockburn City Council
  • Corrigin Shire Council
  • Cottesloe Town Council
  • Dowerin Shire Council
  • Esperance Shire Council
  • Fremantle City Council
  • Shire of Irwin
  • Kondinin Shire Council
  • Lake Grace Shire Council
  • Melville City Council
  • Mount Magnet Shire Council
  • Murray Shire Council
  • Narrogin Town Council
  • Quairading Shire Council
  • Serpentine-Jarrahdale Shire
  • Shire of Sandstone
  • Shire of Busselton
  • Shire of Capel
  • Shire of Christmas Island
  • Shire of Denmark
  • City of Gosnells
  • Shire of Kalamunda
  • Shire of Perenjori Shire
  • Town of Narrogin
  • Shire of Northam
  • Upper Gascoyne Shire Council
  • Victoria Park Town Council
  • York Shire Council
  • Town of Vincent
  • Wanneroo City Council

Which cities around the world have signed up?

Already cities in more than 60 countries around the world have committed to Earth Hour 2009 including Abu Dhabi, Amman, Auckland, Beijing, Bogota, Cape Town, Copenhagen, Dubai, Guatemala City, Edinburgh, Helsinki, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Kiev, Kuala Lumpur, Lisbon, London, Manila, Mexico City, Moscow, Oslo, Rome, Singapore, Shanghai, Sydney, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Vancouver, Wellington and Warsaw. Please visit www.earthhour.org for a complete list.

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What do we hope to accomplish through Earth Hour 2009?

This year our major push is for an effective international agreement at the Copenhagen climate conference. Copenhagen is a pivotal moment in world history - never has there been a greater need and opportunity for effective global action. An effective international agreement is needed to help avoid catastrophic and irreversible climate change impacts. This is why the U.N. conference at Copenhagen in December 2009 is the most crucial political arena regarding climate change: it will be there that each country in the international community will come together to agree on a new global climate deal that will be the next step after the Kyoto Protocol and will define how we deal with climate change in the future.

WWF is pushing for the following:

  • a binding and equitable international climate agreement that enters into force in 2013 (post-Kyoto Protocol), to ensure that global greenhouse gas emissions peak and start on a downward path well before 2020, and fall steeply thereafter
  • the establishment of a robust global carbon market and other financial mechanisms that promote clean energy investment in developing countries, support adaptation in least developed countries, and deliver deep emissions reductions within industrialised countries
  • agreement on extended technology transfer, trade and investment to serve the needs of developing countries and pave the way to low-carbon development
  • a credible framework to ensure that emissions from deforestation and degradation in developing countries are drastically reduced, while respecting the rights and access of indigenous people and local communities to forest resources
  • a strong commitment to secure predictable and sustainable finance and resources to help vulnerable developing countries to adapt where possible to the already inevitable impacts of climate change.
  • Through Earth Hour, WWF hopes to create political momentum for enacting effective climate legislation and a global climate agreement. Through Earth Hour, WWF will continue to educate and raise awareness about climate change and offer ideas and solutions that people can integrate into their daily lives.
  • Through Earth Hour, WWF aims to unify people's voices from around the world who are demanding action from our elected officials to tackle the climate crisis.

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What happened during Earth Hour in 2008?

Earth Hour 2008 was an important step in the fight against climate change. Over 50 million people, representing over 400 cities on all seven continents, turned out their lights in the largest climate event of all time. 58 per cent of Australian adults in capital cities took part by turning off the lights at home (56%), turning off some household appliances (46%), and taking the mobile phone off charger off standby (37%).

The movement captured the public's imagination with lights going out at some of the world's most iconic landmarks including the Sydney Opera House, Bangkok's Wat Arun Buddhist temple, the Coliseum in Rome, Stockholm's Royal Castle, London's City Hall, New York's Empire State Building, Sears Tower in Chicago and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Other symbols going dark included Cola-Cola's famous billboard in Times Square and the Google homepage.

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What does a pledge to turn out your lights involve and commit me to?

Participating in Earth Hour is easy. All you have to do is sign up at www.EarthHour.org, tell your friends / co-workers about it and then turn off all of your non-essential lighting on March 28th at 8:30pm. Through signing up you are agreeing that strong action needs to be taken to find a solution to the climate crisis.

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Who can participate in Earth Hour?

Anyone. Earth Hour is an inclusive event and everyone is invited to participate. WWF will provide tools online to enable any town, community, school, individual or organization to be part of the event.

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Why is Earth Hour at 8:30pm this year instead of 8pm?

As the campaign has grown from one city in one country to a truly global campaign, the time has been moved to allow the maximum number of cities around the world to be suitably dark for the lights out campaign to have a greater visual impact. Earth Hour is held around the spring equinox, which ensures nearly equal sunset times in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

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Do I have to turn off all of my electricity for Earth Hour?

Through Earth Hour we are asking people to turn off all non-essential lighting. Emergency lighting should stay on. The main point of Earth Hour is to unite people, companies and governments around the world through the symbolic flip of a switch. Earth Hour in itself will not lower our carbon footprint, rather it sends a signal to government decision-makers that we as individuals and communities demand action.

The decision on which lights to turn off can be made individually, but usually consists of overhead lights in rooms (whether it is your house or a business), outdoor lighting that does not impact safety, computers, decorative lights, neon signs for advertising, televisions, desk lamps, etc.

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Will my city go completely black?

Earth Hour is not a black out. It is a voluntary power down of non-essential lighting by its participants. For many businesses in city skyscrapers or for many government buildings the lights are turned off at the end of the business day the Friday before Earth Hour and won't go back on until that Monday morning, so the event will be more of a fade to gray than an abrupt shift to black. There is usually no instant dramatic difference, but rather a gradual power down starting the previous day.

Earth Hour turns off non-essential lighting only. Lights necessary for public safety will not go out.

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Are there any events planned for Earth Hour 2009?

Details of local Earth Hour events can be found at www.earthhour.org. The site will be updated constantly so if there is anything posted for your city you can plan your own event or check back frequently for updates.

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How can I encourage my town, city, family to participate?

By visiting www.earthhour.org you can find tool kits walking you through how individuals, community groups, businesses and cities can get involved with Earth Hour.

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Is Earth Hour merely a symbolic act?

Symbols are quite powerful. From the Vietnam War protests to the Sorry Day march, symbolic actions have a way of sparking change that sweeps around the planet. Flipping the switch for Earth Hour is a way for people to get involved and demand action wherever they are. It's easy so everyone can participate no matter their location, age or income level. Switching off your lights is a symbol of your support for effective action on climate change, which is represented in our Vote Earth campaign. Flicking the switch is a vote against climate change.

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What are governments doing?

This December, leaders of the world will gather in Copenhagen to create an international agreement to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Earth Hour is a call to officials representing us that we need to reach a new global deal.

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What is Earth Hour's relationship with WWF?

Earth Hour is a WWF-led limitative which relies strongly on the support of valued partners. While WWF is the primary organisation behind Earth Hour, many other groups and non-governmental organisations are supporting Earth Hour in 2009.

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Why is WWF dealing with climate change?

WWF is committed to saving the planet's most threatened habitats and species, including tigers, rhinos, elephants and polar bears. To do this effectively WWF must focus on the most imminent threats, climate change being an overarching issue for all of them.

Simply put, climate change is a game changer. It threatens to undo the great progress we've been making in conserving the world's most important and most threatened regions and animals.

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What else does WWF do to reduce the effects of climate change in Australia and around the world?

WWF works with communities, governments and businesses around the world to reduce greenhouse gas pollution and prepare for the impacts of climate change. Our efforts are focused around four key areas:

  1. Securing a new global climate agreement that will sharply reduce emissions and ensure global average temperatures are kept from rising beyond the dangerous threshold of 2 degrees Celsius (3.5 degrees Fahrenheit) - According to the best science, an average global warming of more than 2 degrees C (above pre-industrial temperature) would result In dangerous climate change leading to irreversible social, economic and environmental Impacts. These impacts include more frequent and more intense severe weather events, substantial sea level rise and more frequent droughts. Already, the average global temperature has risen by .75 degrees C (1 degree F), over pre-industrial levels and average Australian temperatures have risen around 0.9 degrees C since 1950. WWF has an extensive campaign that is working with governments around the world, through the UN process, to secure a new global climate treaty. Negotiations on the treaty are expected to conclude this December in Copenhagen, Denmark.
  2. Combating tropical deforestation, which accounts for nearly 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions Each year, 22,608 km2 is cut down in the Amazon and Borneo, two of the world's largest rainforests. WWF is on the ground in both of those places, as well as the Congo, working with corporate, governmental and community partners to protect the last of the world's tropical forests. Trees absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide - the primary greenhouse gas - which is released into the atmosphere when forests are cut down. If the Amazon were its own country, it would be the world's seventh largest emitter of carbon dioxide.
  3. Working with corporations to improve efficiency and reduce emissions - Through WWF's Climate Savers program, some of the world's largest and most respected corporations - including Tetrapak, IBM, Nike, Coca-Cola, HP and Johnson & Johnson - are reducing their global greenhouse gas emissions. And in the process, these companies are saving money as they make their operations more efficient. Climate Savers, now in its 10th year, currently has 19 corporate members.
  4. Helping communities and nature prepare for and adapt to changes in climate - Climate change is already having an impact in regions all around the world. WWF is on the ground helping wildlife and ecosystems adjust to substantial changes that are resulting from a warming planet.

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What are the next steps after turning out ones lights?

On an individual level and for businesses, Earth Hour is just the start. After the lights go out around the world we hope that conversations will continue on climate change and that people will take initiative to make small changes in their lives to be more carbon efficient. We encourage simple but effective energy-saving measures such as installing compact fluorescent light bulbs, which are more efficient and last much longer than traditional incandescent bulbs, choosing energy efficient appliances, making sure their car tires are properly inflated and unplugging electronics when they are not in use. WWF will spend the rest of the year taking the voices of the people who participated in Earth Hour to our policy makers and work with them on finding ways to tackle the climate crisis the world is facing. We are asking participants to voice their support for effective action on climate change by emailing their representatives.

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What do I need to do on the night?

The most important thing to do on the night is turn off your lights between 8:30pm and 9:30pm. There will also be events held on the night, check back later for event updates.

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Does this mean I have to turn of everything in my home and use absolutely no electricity?

The main point of this campaign is to show people and companies how easy it is to take action to avoid global warming. This does not mean you have to turn off your fridge, but we do encourage you to join us by switching off your lights and all non-essential household electronic equipment, and make a statement, as well as changing your habits in the long term.

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How can businesses participate?

In Australia, if the commercial sector turned off lights when buildings weren't in use and combined this action with other cost effective technology they could reduce lighting emissions by 70-80%. We encourage all businesses to participate in Earth Hour - to commit to turning off your lights during Earth Hour - and to tell your employees and customers that you're taking part.

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How will you ensure that lights are switched off?

We are encouraging as many people to turn off the lights as possible. But we need your help. Please spread the word about Earth Hour to your friends, family and workmates - in conversation, via email, on your weblog, MySpace or Facebook profile, or other websites. The more people that participate in Earth Hour, the more successful it will be.

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Isn't switching the lights off dangerous? What about public safety?

We are asking people to turn off the non-essential lights for one hour - no lights that affect public safety will be turned off. We want everyone to enjoy Earth Hour in a safe and energy efficient environment.

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If everyone turns their lights back on at the same time - will there be a power surge?

No. We've checked with energy companies and authorities and turning all the lights back on won't cause any issues.

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How much carbon dioxide will be saved during the event?

In 2007 we measured how much energy saved during Earth Hour in Sydney and achieved a reduction of 10.2% (more than doubled our target of 5%). But the main aim of the campaign is to continue to be energy efficient beyond Earth Hour, individually making small actions everyday, in order to reduce our carbon footprint, and to influence governments to agree to deep cuts in emissions through a global agreement in Copenhagen in 2009.

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What about after the event? What can I do then?

Visit Earthhourau.org and wwf.org.au - email Kevin Rudd, Penny Wong, Malcolm Turnbull, and Greg Hunt - show you vote earth by urging our leaders commit to a minimum 25% reduction in emissions in the lead up to the UN Climate Change Conference being held in Copenhagen in December this year.

What does the Earth Hour logo mean?

The Earth Hour '60' logo represents the 60 minutes of Earth Hour where we focus on the impact we are having on our planet and take positive action to address the issues we face.

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Aren't you using a heap of electricity and resources to promote this event?

WWF-Australia operates Earth Hour under our Principles of Operation, which we are happy to share with you. All the work WWF-Australia does for Earth Hour is carbon neutral.

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What candles should I use for my Earth Hour event?

If you plan on burning candles during Earth Hour, make sure you use 100% beeswax candles which are gentler on our planet - smoke free, non-toxic and non-allergenic. They are also made of natural products, not petroleum-based materials, so they are effectively carbon neutral (the carbon dioxide they emit has already been taken from the atmosphere to produce the wax). If you're using candles, though, make sure you take care. The Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia reports that "in 2003-04, 37 candle-related fires caused an estimated $986,000 damage to homes in Western Australia". They suggest the following tips:

  • Candles should only be used under adult supervision.
  • Candles should never be left unattended.
  • Candles should be kept away from children and pets.
  • Extinguish candles before going to sleep.
  • Keep candles away from flammable liquids and gas-combustible materials.
  • Candles should be kept clear of any combustible materials such as paper, curtains, clothing and Christmas decorations.
  • Candles should not be placed in windows as they can be blown over. Blinds and curtains can also catch alight.
  • Candles should be placed on a stable, dry, heat-resistant surface away from drafts.

We also have candles at the WWF store.

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