Feb 26: Sydney shows the way on WWF's Earth Hour 2009

Sydney will lead more than one thousand cities into Earth Hour 2009 as WWF sets its sights on reaching 1 billion people around the world.

Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007 when approximately 2.2 million people and 2,100 businesses took part. The Australian initiative is now a truly global effort to focus attention on the threat of climate change, with people in 62 countries already signing up to switch off their lights for one hour from 8.30pm on Saturday March 28, 2009.

The iconic Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge will be among the first internationally recognised landmarks to go dark.

WWF-Australia CEO Greg Bourne said 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.

"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.

"The event 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."

Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett said the Federal Government would again be an enthusiastic participant in Earth Hour.

"It's great to have the opportunity to be involved in this fantastic event again. It shows there are simple and practical options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

"Last year, over 97 per cent of Federal Government departments registered and participated in Earth Hour; this was a really good result and one we hope to build on."

Earth Hour 2009 Ambassador Jamie Durie urged all Australians to be part of the event and send a statement to world leaders.

"Earth Hour is your best opportunity to be part of a mass movement and show world leaders we expect Copenhagen to deliver real progress on climate change."

Cities confirmed to participate in Earth Hour 2009 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.

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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