The fourth annual Earth Hour was observed across Canada last Saturday evening. From 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., lights dimmed in hundreds of communities as Canadians lent their efforts to a global initiative to reduce power use.
But in Canada at least, the savings were fairly negligible. Toronto saved only half the power of a year ago. Other big cities also showed reduced results, and in Edmonton, electricity consumption actually went up.
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So, was it a success? Is Earth Hour an idea that’s worth pursuing?
“Absolutely, it’s a useful exercise,” says Stacey McCarthy, communications manager for WWF-Canada in Halifax. “We’re very happy that the number of participating cities, municipalities and towns in Canada increased to 422 this year. It was 304 a year ago.”
McCarthy insists rising participation — as opposed to kilowatt-hours saved — is the better measure of Earth Hour’s effectiveness.
“The one hour is a symbolic demonstration more than an effort to save power,” she says. “We just want to see awareness increasing, and that’s what did happen. Earth Hour is becoming a common household term. It’s exciting to see Canadians click in and say, ‘I need to do something about this.’”
Jennifer Link, spokesperson for Toronto Hydro, agrees.
“Generally, conservation is a year-round activity,” she says. “This is an awareness-raising tactic to get people excited about conservation. Why wouldn’t you do it? It generates interest, and gets people thinking about conservation for the longer term.”