Earth Hour: We're In It Together

Submitted by edg on Fri, 30 Mar '12 11.45pm

Tomorrow (Saturday 31st March) at 8.30pm, Edinburgh joins cities around the world by powering down for Earth Hour.

Edinburgh Castle, the Scottish Parliament, and the Scott Monument are among familiar Scottish landmarks that will be sharing sixty minutes of darkness. Following the completion of its 2-year long repainting, the Forth Rail Bridge will go dark for the first time in support of Earth Hour.

The event, being promoted here by the World Wildlife Fund, is almost like a global Mexican wave for action on climate change, as the energy-drop rolls across the time zones, from Samoa and heading back to end at the Cook Islands in the South Pacific.

Earth Hour has not been without its critics, even in environmental circles - "it's tokenistic", "it sends the wrong message that we have to sit in the dark to save the planet", and such-like comments.

Yet, the event which started in one city, Sydney, in 2007, continues to grow each year. Earth Hour organisers say the event will draw in 5,411 cities and towns, and 147 countries, compared to 5,251 and 135 in 2011.

"WWF’s Earth Hour is a simple way for people to show their support for strong action on climate change,” says Dr Richard Dixon, Director of WWF Scotland.

As well as the powerful symbolism of people across the planet acting in unison on the single, critical issue of climate change, here in Scotland all five of Scotland's main political leaders have used Earth Hour as a time to unanimously commit to Scotland's ambitious targets for GHG emissions reductions. They even made a campaign video together.

We're going to need political will in spades. According to the first report by the Committee on Climate Change, Scotland's 2009 GHGs had dropped by 28-29% since the baseline 1990. But the report added GHGs are expected to rise in 2010 and that more needed be done to hit the government's target of 42% reduction by 2020.

Beyond Scotland, things look less encouraging. This year's Edinburgh Medal winner, NASA scientist James Hansen, has said that sea levels could rise by as much as 18 feet this century due to our continued dependence on fossil fuels.

According to the most recent update from the IPCC, more droughts, deluges, and natural disasters are on their way.  

Events like Earth Hour remind us that we are all - from Mumbai to Miami, Tiree to Tuvalu - in it together.

Scottish Leaders Pledges on GHG Reductions at Earth Hour

Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP, Leader of the Scottish National Party and Scotland's First Minister

“Scotland has world-leading targets to reduce carbon emissions and we are almost two thirds of the way to meeting our target of 42 per cent emissions reduction by 2020. We are taking action at home to reduce our emissions and taking action abroad by showing international leadership on this crucial global issue."

“Earth Hour is a timely reminder that it is not just governments that have a role to play here. Everyone must do their part to tackle climate change and I hope that a record number of people take part in Earth Hour and consider what else they can do to make a difference.”

Ruth Davidson MSP, Leader of the Scottish Conservatives and Unionist Party

“When thousands of people across Scotland join hundreds of millions of people across 135 countries in the world, politicians listen. The Scottish Conservatives backed Scotland’s climate change targets in 2009 and we’ll do what we can to support the Scottish Government in achieving those targets. I'd encourage people to turn off for WWF's Earth Hour and raise awareness everywhere.”

Alison Johnstone MSP, Scottish Green Party MSP

“WWF’s Earth Hour should remind all politicians that we must keep up the momentum to achieve a green future for Scotland. Individual action is important, but we need bolder political action to change the system in favour of warmer homes, affordable local food and safer streets for walkers and cyclists.”

Johann Lamont MSP, Leader of the Scottish Labour Party

“WWF's Earth Hour has now become a welcome fixture in the calendar when people all over Scotland and the world send a clear message that they care about the future of our planet. Scotland has set ambitious targets to reduce emissions as part of the Scottish Climate Change Act but we face a significant challenge making it a reality. I will be observing WWF's Earth Hour with my family on Saturday night and I would encourage other Scots to do the same.”

Willie Rennie MSP, Leader of Scottish Liberal Democrat Party

“I am pleased to support WWF’s Earth Hour which is a great example of individuals coming together to make a difference. Scotland is a world leader when it comes to its ambitious climate change targets and now we need strong and consistent action to make sure that we meet these. While action is needed at a global and national level, Earth Hour is a great reminder that when we make small differences in our daily lives, these add up to make a huge difference.”