MELBOURNE–The birthplace of the now global phenomenon Earth Hour
kicked off in Australia with thousands of people gathered in Melbourne
for a concert powered by bicycles as some of the city's famous
landmarks dimmed for an hour.
Across the country, lights were
turned off from Sydney's Harbour Bridge and Opera House to the
Parliament House in New South Wales.
But the largest event in
Australia this year was in Melbourne where thousands of people gathered
at Federation Square to listen in the dark to a concert. All week,
school children and corporate teams have been cycling at 16 bikes set
up in the city's square to generate enough energy for the Earth Hour
Coun. Ken Ong said this evening the city of Melbourne
reduced its energy consumption more than any other Australian city in
2008 and he hopes that even more companies and residents will turn off
their lights and appliances this year.
"The city of Melbourne
remains committed to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions," said Ong.
"Last year the electricity use was reduced by ten point one per cent."
first Earth Hour began in Sydney in March 2007 and the city's mayor
spread the world at an international large cities conference in New
York a month later. By 2008, more than 350 cities around the world
participated and organizers with the WWF say 3,000 cities and towns are
turning off lights this year.
WWF-Australia CEO Greg Bourne said
in an interview the country is proud to be the birthplace of Earth Hour
and one of the first countries to "go dark."
"It's amazing to
think that Earth Hour started here in Australia just two years ago,"
said Bourne. "There's an immense pride in having our concept become
Earth Hour started in Chatham Island and reached
Melbourne just before dawn in Toronto, nearly 12 hours before lights
beginning dimming across Canada. One of the last spots for Earth Hour
will be in Vancouver.
"We saw some of the lights go off and
realize this is an important thing for all of us to be doing," said
Michelle Brown, who brought her daughter to Federation Square to
witness the event. "It's important to remember to do the simple things
not just for one hour each year."