earth day

Earth Hour: Milestones Over the Years

So Energy

Every year, millions of people all over the world participate in Earth Hour by switching off their lights as a symbol of solidarity with the planet. 

This year, Earth Hour will take place on Saturday 26th March at 8.30pm, marking fifteen years since its inception back in 2007. The world’s first Earth Hour took place in Sydney, with over two million Australians joining in to switch off their lights for an hour and show a climate-sceptic government that they were serious about climate change. Now, people all over the world participate in the annual event, inspiring individuals and organisations worldwide to take action for the environment.

To celebrate the achievements of Earth Hour as it reaches its fifteenth year, we’ve rounded-up some of its milestones from over the years. 

Planting the World’s First Earth Hour Forest

In 2013, WWF Uganda secured 2,700 hectares of land to establish the first-ever Earth Hour forest, aimed at tackling deforestation in the country. WWF’s goal is for the forest to be filled with at least 500,000 trees that are indigenous to Uganda.

The creation of Argentina’s largest marine protected area

2013 also saw the creation of Banco Namuncurá in Argentina - a 3.4 million hectare Marine Protected Area that more than tripled the proportion of the Argentine Sea under protection. The project was approved by Argentina’s senate following an Earth Hour-backed campaign, which mobilised thousands of participants to help champion the passing of the bill. Before the law was passed, only 1% of the coastal marine area of Argentina was protected.

Tackling deforestation in Southwestern Madagascar

In Southwestern Madagascar, where 99% of people use wood or charcoal to cook their meals, Earth Hour has made considerable progress in reducing the reliance on wood for fuel, while cutting down on deforestation. WWF and Earth Hour subsidised the sale of 2,000 high-efficiency cook stoves in the region, to reduce consumption of fuelwood by around 50%. Combined, WWF estimated that the 2,000 stoves would help preserve 350 hectares of forest annually.

Banning plastic bags in the Galápagos Islands

In the Galápagos Islands, a successful Earth Hour campaign in 2014 led to the introduction of a new ban on all plastic bags, making it the first province in Ecuador to implement a ban of this kind. Prior to the initiative, it was estimated that 4 million plastic bags were being used in the Islands every year. 

Urging the Spanish government to ban fossil fuels

During Earth Hour 2016, Spanish citizens came together to urge the Spanish government to stop using fossil fuels and start using renewable energy. Aimed at holding the government accountable to its environmental commitments set out under the Paris agreement, signatures were collected from over 50,000 citizens. 

Conserving marine ecosystems in French Polynesia

In 2018, Earth Hour inspired public pressure that led to 5 million square km of its Exclusive Economic Zone in the South Pacific being reclassified in order to protect its marine ecosystems. Now categorised as a Managed Marine Area, the area is managed sustainably, with a focus on conserving biodiversity and marine wildlife. 

Are you planning on participating in Earth Hour 2022? Visit the website to find out more about the ways you can take part and make an impact.