Thursday,23 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1288, (24 - 30 March 2016)
Thursday,23 November, 2017
Issue 1288, (24 - 30 March 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Candlelit and clean

Egypt joined the world in turning off the lights during Earth Hour, reports Mahmoud Bakr

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Al-Ahram Weekly

Egypt joined the world in turning off the lights for one hour on Saturday, from 8.30pm to 9.30pm. Environment Minister Khaled Fahmi had urged the public to respond to call to “change climate change” and take part in Earth Hour.

The annual event aims to conserve energy, raise awareness of climate change and support community participation in environmental protection by turning off all nonessential electrical appliances for one hour.

Turning off the lights is not merely to conserve an hour’s worth of energy but to unite nations around the mission of protecting the planet, making every person in the world a part of the mission, said Fahmi. The Environment Ministry and the Ministry of Electricity coordinated with other ministries and governorates to sponsor activities as part of the campaign.

Lights were turned off at several cultural and tourist sites, including the Pyramids, Sphinx, Citadel, Cairo Tower, and a number of hotels and tourist facilities in the Cairo and Giza governorates.

The Ministers of Environment and Electricity called on businesses and individuals to reduce their electricity consumption to slow down climate change and global warming, which cast a long shadow on our lives and our children’s future. During Earth Hour many people opted to replace the use of electric lights with candles and to use bikes rather than cars.

Earth Hour began in 2007 in just one city. By 2015, millions of inhabitants of 7,000 cities in 172 countries were involved in the voluntary initiative.

Earth Hour was launched by the World Wide Fund for Nature in 2007 in Sydney, Australia. Restaurants in the city replaced electric lights with candles and lights were turned off in homes, as well as in public buildings such as the Opera House and on Sydney Harbour Bridge.

By 2008, 400 cities had joined, including Atlanta, San Francisco, Bangkok, Ottawa, Dublin, Vancouver, Montreal, Phoenix, Copenhagen, Aarhus, Manila, Chicago, Toronto, Odense and Aalborg. Dubai was the first city in the Arab world to take part.

Egypt’s participation in recent years has led to the reduction of electricity consumption by about 100 megawatts, the equivalent of two small power plants. Egypt participated for the first time in 2009, when 50 megawatts of electricity were saved. A year later the savings had doubled.

In recent years the lights have gone out at many of the world’s most recognizable sites — the Pyramids, Sphinx, Luxor Temple, the dome of St. Peter’s in Rome, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Empire State Building in New York City, Sydney’s Opera, the Bird’s Nest Stadium in Beijing, and Burj Khalifa in Dubai.

Egypt was among the first Arab states to seek to address climate change. It signed the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992 and ratified it in 1994. In 1996 it created a climate change unit at the Environmental Affairs Agency and established the National Climate Change Committee in 1997. Egypt signed the Kyoto Protocol in 1999 and ratified it in 2005. In the same year it set up the National Committee for Clean Development.

Fahmi and Giza Governor Kamal Al-Dali inaugurated this year’s Earth Hour in Egypt at the Sound and Light stage at the Pyramids, with some 1,000 young people in attendance. The celebration included a concert by the French-Lebanese musician Ibrahim Maalouf.

When the clock struck 8.30 the concert’s presenter called on the public to turn off lights and replace them with candles.

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