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30m switch off lights for Earth Hour.

SYDNEY/LONDON: People switched off lights across the world yesterday, dimming buildings, hotels, restaurants and bars to show concern at global warming.

More than 30 million people switched off their lights for 60 minutes by the time "Earth Hour" - which started at 8pm in Suva in Fiji and Christchurch in New Zealand - completed its cycle westwards.

More than 380 towns and cities and 3,500 businesses in 35 countries signed up for the campaign.

"Earth Hour shows that people are prepared to pull together to find a solution to climate change. It can be done," said James Leape of WWF International which was running the campaign.

"But we need to harness some of the co-operative spirit we've seen with Earth Hour to find a global solution."

Lights at Sydney's Opera House and Harbour Bridge were switched off and Australians held candle-lit beach parties, played poker by candle light, floated candles down rivers and dined by candle light.

In Bangkok some of the city's business districts, shopping malls and billboards went dark, although street lights stayed on. One major hotel invited guests to dine by candlelight and reported brisk business.

Dubai also joined the initiative by switching off the outside lights of its landmark Burj Al Arab hotel.

In Copenhagen the famed Tivoli Gardens said it would also switch off along with the City Hall.

In Britain, 26 town and city councils signed up to switch off non-essential lights as did several historic buildings including Prince Charles' private residence Highgrove House. Ireland also took part in the campaign.

And in the age of the Internet, the UK arm of search engine Google too turned its home page black ahead of time with the message: "We've turned the lights out. Now it's your turn."

In Norway, at the Kvitfjell ski resort that was host of the 1994 Winter Olympic downhill, some late-season parties were held by candle light as heavy snow fell outside.

Floodlights were also to go out at landmarks in Budapest, including its castle, cathedral and parliament, and 100 statues and museums.

The movement was then to jump the Atlantic to the US and Canada where several cities like Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta and Toronto signed up. San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, Chicago's Sears Tower and Soldier Field Stadium football ground, as well as the 1,815ft CN Tower in Toronto were due to be plunged into darkness. Even the lights at Niagara Falls were to go out.

Organisers of Earth Hour said that while switching off a light for one hour would have little impact on carbon emissions, the fact that so many people were taking part showed how much interest and concern at the climate crisis had taken hold.

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Jun 11, 2008
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