"It's fortuitous timing that as millions of people take part in WWF's Earth Hour, the world's leading scientists release the latest IPCC report, which highlights the various impacts of climate change," said Colin Butfield, director of public engagement and campaigns at WWF-UK. "The significance of these two events is massive. Climate change is the biggest environmental threat facing our planet – it's real, it's happening right now, and we need to act fast."
Among the world's famous landmarks that will dim their lights are the Empire State building in New York, the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Kremlin and Red Square in Moscow, the Bosphorus Bridge in Turkey and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. In the UK, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham palace, Tower Bridge and the London Eye will all dim their lights.
Earth Hour was original launched in Australia in 2007, WWF says Earth Hour has now grown to become the world’s biggest environmental event. Indeed, over 7,000 towns and cities in 154 countries took part in 2013.
2014 will see the launch of Earth Hour Blue, a digital crowd-funding and crowdsourcing platform which enables people to help raise funds and take action on a range of environmental issues.
Earth Hour's CEO and co-founder, Andy Ridley, said: "For us the symbolism or turning your lights off will always be important. But the big thing for us has always been how to push it beyond the hour. The stage we're at now is to make it really easy for people from their handset, tablet or laptop to be able to do something pretty immediate to make a difference. That's the holy grail for us – building a global collective movement, far beyond the event, where the event becomes a kind of inspiration but the movement is really the essence of it."
Some critics of Earth Hour have said that asking people to sit in the dark plays to "a widely held prejudice that 'the greens' want us all to go back to living in caves".
But Ridley said: "A big part of Earth Hour is about empowerment – the idea that you as an individual can do something. It was extraordinary that first night looking out over Sydney and seeing a city go dark. And it wasn't about going back to the dark ages – it was an excuse to lean over the garden fence and talk to your neighbor or a reason for people to talk to each other at a restaurant, so I never underestimate the power of that symbolism."