Wellington, 26 March 2022 (dpa/MIA) — Monuments in New Zealand became the first in the world to go dark for Earth Hour on Saturday.
The global event encourages nations to switch off their lights for an hour to bring attention to the issue of climate change.
Auckland monuments including the Sky Tower, Harbour Bridge and Wellington’s parliament buildings went dark at 8:30 pm (0730 GMT).
Later, other monuments across the globe, including the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower and the Sydney Opera House, will switch off their lights in solidarity.
SkyCity spokesperson Claire Walker said the Sky Tower, the southern hemisphere’s tallest free-standing structure, went dark as a “symbol of our commitment” to the planet.
“Earth Hour is an initiative we can all get behind in our own way and we are proud that the Sky Tower can lead that campaign in Auckland.”
Over the years, the lights-off moment has seen entire streets, buildings, landmarks and city skylines go dark. The initiative began in 2007 in Australia, with 192 countries and territories taking part in 2021.
Meanwhile on Friday, around 220,000 people, according to activists, took to the streets of more than 300 cities and towns in Germany alone during a worldwide day of protest organized by the Fridays for Future youth climate movement.
In Berlin, more than 22,000 came out and in Hamburg more than 12,000 people joined the demonstrations, demanding a stronger response to climate change, which is having a devastating effect on many parts of the world.
Worldwide, there were more than 1,000 demonstrations on Friday, according to Fridays for Future. In Stockholm, for example, a number of people took to the streets with leading activist Greta Thunberg. Social media footage showed a long protest march through the Swedish capital.
A video shared by Thunberg on social media showed a crowd of predominantly young protesters hopping in unison and chanting, “We are unstoppable! Another world is possible!”
At the front of the crowd, a large banner was held with the words “people not profit.”
This was one of the mottos of the day of protest, which was called by the international climate action movement inspired by Thunberg’s weekly school strikes.
Local groups responded to the call with protests worldwide, from Britain to Kenya and South Korea.
Fridays for Future spokesperson in Germany Jule Pehnt said that in view of the war in Ukraine, it was also necessary for Berlin to quickly phase out the environmentally harmful energy sources oil, coal and gas. Every day, millions of euros flowed to Russia and financed the war on Ukraine.
“One answer to the war must be to phase out all fossil fuels by 2035 at the latest,” Pehnt said. Billions are now needed for the expansion of renewable energies, heat pumps and public transport, she said.