Last night's Earth Hour saw thousands of cities and towns, homes, businesses and landmarks across the world go dark in support of WWF's call to action on climate change.
"We are truly amazed and inspired at the phenomenal reach of this year's event, with numbers of participating cities growing almost ten fold from 370 last year to almost 4,000 in 2009", said Greg Bourne, CEO, WWF-Australia.
"This is an incredible wave of support for taking action on climate change, one which began here in Australia and which Australians should be incredibly proud of."
In Australia, WWF's exclusive polling has shown that Canberra for the second year running led the nation with the highest participation rate, with an outstanding 62%.
Capital city participation results were as follows:
- Canberra: 62%
- Adelaide: 50%
- Brisbane: 52 %
- Sydney: 50%
- Melbourne: 40%
- Perth: 40%
Nearly half of all Australians (47 per cent) participated in the call for action on climate change by switching off their lights. While representing a slight decrease on last year, the figure doesn't capture the vast improvement year on year in regional Australia.
The polling, conducted by AMR Interactive, also showed that young people were again a driving force behind the campaign, with over 50 per cent of 18- 29 year olds flicking the switch - on top of the tens of thousands of children who were expected to take part.
Earth Hour's global expansion has been matched by its online presence with more than 1 million social media supporters, over 4 million views of official Earth Hour images on flickr and almost 17 million new keyword mentions of "Earth Hour" within the last 24 hours.
Earth Hour Global Director Andy Ridley said that the overwhelming global support was a sign that world leaders needed to take strong action to combat climate change at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December.
"Australian businesses and politicians can no longer say that Australia is going it alone. We are a world leader on climate change, but Earth Hour 2009 has proven that other countries are ready to follow."
"We hope governments world over listen to this emphatic vote as they prepare to sit down and agree on a global commitment to cut greenhouse gas emissions in Copenhagen in December."
Key achievements of Earth Hour 2009 in Australia:
- Around 55% (309) of Australia's local councils committed to Earth Hour, demonstrating strong regional support across the country
- All Australian capital cities participated in Earth Hour
- 99 of the ASX100 companies registered their participation
- Australia's major icons switched off: the Opera House and Harbour Bridge (Sydney), St Kilda's Luna Park and Flinders Street Station (Melbourne), Story Bridge (Brisbane), Parliament House (Canberra), WA State Memorial (Perth), Rundle Mall Lantern (Adelaide).
Key achievements of Earth Hour 2009 internationally:
- 3929 cities, towns and municipalities in 88 countries across the globe
- 70 national capitals participated
- 18 out of 20 G20 countries took part 9 out of 10 of the world's most populated cities switched off
- The world's most famous landmarks went dark: the Pyramids and the Sphinx (Egypt), Eiffel Tower (France), Vatican (Italy), Acropolis (Greece), Big Ben (UK), the Las Vegas Strip and Empire State Building (USA), Christ the Redeemer (Brazil), Bird's Nest (China) and the Petronas Twin Towers (Malaysia).