All over the world tomorrow, people will switch off the lamps to raise awareness of climate change, writes Lang Banks
It’s that time of year again – when we ask you to be a part of the biggest global celebration of our brilliant planet. Tomorrow at 8:30pm, thousands of Scots will join millions around the world by switching off their lights to celebrate WWF’s Earth Hour.
But will taking part and switching off our lights make a difference? The answer is yes. For many people the symbolic event is a catalyst for change, with 84 per cent of those who took part in Earth Hour last year saying they felt inspired to do more to help protect the planet.
That could be making responsible decisions when purchasing food and other goods, by buying local, sustainable products; using your voice to call for action on climate change from your MSPs; or raising funds to help protect people and nature around the world.
Last year Scotland took its place among 172 countries switching off, with iconic landmarks such as Edinburgh Castle and, for the first time, the beautiful Kelpies joining the symbolic moment of care for the planet. They joined communities around the world, including island states like Tahiti, that are already feeling the impact of climate change, to cities such as Paris where world leaders reached an historic agreement to tackle climate change in December.
Earth Hour mobilises millions of people, and that can’t and shouldn’t be ignored by decision makers.
So you get the picture that the bar has been set pretty high for this year’s event. To encourage people to get together with family and friends we’re asking people to hold a candlelit dinner on Saturday evening and send us selfies on social media so we can share with everyone else taking part.
Keeping the cooking theme going, Great British Bake Off star Flora Shedden helped launch Earth Hour in Scotland by inviting us into her kitchen and providing an exclusive Earth Hour paella recipe for people to try on the night. We’re also delighted to again have the support of WWF Global Ambassador Andy Murray, who’s encouraging people to take part, saying: “Our planet is incredible and it’s up to us to make sure we take care of it for the next generation.”
As the excitement around Earth Hour 2016 grows, the #PassThePanda hashtag has taken off on social media, with Scotland’s political leaders, local authorities, organisations such as Historic Environment Scotland and Scottish Canals, theatres and even wrestlers enthusiastically taking part, with the aim of spreading the word and getting even more people to sign up. The sporting world is also limbering up to take part with Heart of Midlothain FC, Inverness Caledonian Thistle and the home of Scottish rugby, BT Murrayfield stadium, switching off.
However, the beauty of Earth Hour is it’s not just about big organisations taking part. Every year I’m delighted to see local community groups, libraries, town monuments, cafes, friends and neighbours sign up and get together for the planet. Churches and places of worship are again planning events up and down the country and for the first time Edinburgh Central Mosque has signed up.
WWF is working for a future where people and nature thrive and that includes safeguarding the environment for future generations. That’s why it’s so important young people get involved and we’re fortunate that our schools and nurseries are helping spread the Earth Hour message and encouraging pupils and parents to go “beyond the hour”.
YoungScot, the national youth information and citizenship charity, is also getting involved by offering members YoungScot rewards points for Earth Hour activities.
The amazing creativity, enthusiasm and energy of every single person who signs up to switch off for Earth Hour feeds into the real, tangible change we can achieve together when we go beyond the hour.
It’s not too late for you to be part of this global event for our amazing planet. You can sign up here www.wwfscotland.org.uk/earthhour and also find out what events are taking place near you. Enjoy yourselves and do it for the planet!
• Lang Banks, director WWF Scotland. Find Flora Shedden’s paella recipe at www.earthhour.wwf.org.uk/gbbo-star-floras-exclusive-earth-hour-recipe/