Feb 26: Sunshine State in darkness for Earth Hour

Queensland businesses and households will be encouraged to switch off their lights for WWF's Earth Hour 2009 as part of an international effort to send a strong message on climate change to world leaders.

Lights will go out on Parliament House, Southbank and other famous Queensland landmarks for one hour from 8.30pm to 9.30pm local time on Saturday March 28 next year.

WWF Queensland Program Leader Nick Heath joined Premier Anna Bligh in Brisbane for the Queensland launch of Earth Hour 2009.

Mr Heath said Queensland, particularly Brisbane, would once again play a leading role to help WWF reach one billion people in 1,000 cities in what will become the largest ever global call to action on climate change.

"Brisbane will join other Australian capitals and major cities around the world to flick the switch in a strong visual message that tells our leaders: 'We want strong action on climate change now'," Mr Heath said.

"But we not only need Brisbane's commercial and landmark structures to participate, we also need households in Brisbane and major regional centres to come on board as well.

"At 8.30pm on Saturday, March 28 WWF wants to see buildings and households from the Gold Coast to Cairns switch off their lights to help raise public awareness about the massive problem of climate change that is already on our doorstep."

Mr Heath said Earth Hour 2009 would take a much more campaign-driven focus than previous years.

Earth Hour 2009 will target world leaders attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen next December, encouraging them to strike a new global deal on climate change.

"WWF will build a strong case for major international intervention in Copenhagen and Earth Hour will kick off a year-long campaign to garner widespread public support. The UN Climate Change Conference will be vital to the future of our planet," Mr Heath said.

The Earth Hour campaign, which began in Sydney in 2007, has grown significantly over the past two years and now has people in 62 countries signed up to flick the switch in 2009.

Confirmed cities include Los Angeles, Las Vegas, London, Rome, Manila, Mexico City, Vancouver, Dubai, Copenhagen, Oslo, Hong Kong, Cape Town and many other major cities around the world, as well as all of Australia's capital cities.

WWF-Australia CEO Greg Bourne said it was a critical time for global action on climate change.

"Earth Hour 2009 will provide a strong visual mandate, a vote from people around the world to say 'we must deal with climate change,' a vote which we hope to channel to the world's leaders at the Copenhagen conference," he said.

"At this meeting, governments around the world must make a strong commitment to reducing the world's greenhouse gas emissions - to avert the current course we are on towards climate crisis.

"By switching off lights and non-essential power between 8.30pm and 9.30pm on March 28, people the world over will be showing the world's leaders the public strongly supports decisive action."

Global Director of Earth Hour Andy Ridley said 2009 was the planet's 'destiny year', with critical decisions to be made in Copenhagen on reducing greenhouse emissions.

"2009 is the year we decide the future of the earth. It is the year the world finally agrees on a plan to massively reduce carbon emissions across the globe. This is the time to invest in new ways of doing business in a new low carbon economy. We must all step over the line together. The sum of our actions today can change history and secure the future of our planet."

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