Joburg to turn into ‘Dark City’ to celebrate Earth Hour
Johannesburg is expected to be plunged into darkness for an hour on Saturday March 25, not as a result of scheduled load-shedding but as a collective gesture by residents to their commitment to the fight against climate change.
People across the world – including Johannesburg – have been requested to switch off their lights and appliances between20h30 and 21h30 on Saturday to mark Earth Hour in a symbolic show of unity against a scourge that is threatening the very existence of the planet.
The City of Johannesburg, in partnership with the Green Building Council South Africa (GBCSA) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), will celebrate Earth Hour by switching off the lights of iconic buildings and landmarks such as the Nelson Mandela Bridge and Metro Centre, the City’s headquarters in Braamfontein, in support of the annual global initiative.
The City, GBCSA and WWF have also challenged members of the South African Property Owners Association to switch off the lights in their buildings.
Johannesburg Executive Mayor Cllr Herman Mashaba says the City is committed to the Earth Hour initiative as it encourages residents to be mindful of their own carbon footprint.“If every person in Johannesburg were to turn off their lights during Earth Hour this year, the savings in respect of reduced energy usage would go a long way to reducing the City’s carbon footprint,” says Mayor Mashaba.
The City’s Growth and Development Strategy 2040 (GDS 2040) envisions a resilient, sustainable and liveable city. It also commits to climate-change mitigation and identifies climate change as a cross-sectoral imperative of the City.
The City’s aspirational greenhouse gas emissions reduction target is set at between 40% and 65% by 2040 against the 2007 baseline of 27.2 Mt CO2e.
Cllr Nico de Jager, the City’s Member of the Mayoral Committee for Environment and Infrastructure Services, will have a candle-lit dinner with his management team at Mandela Square to raise awareness of the importance of Earth Hour.
The City’s social media team is running an online competition to encourage City employees to take part in the campaign.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will be used to call on residents to participate by posting pictures and videos of their Earth Hour stories.
Dorah Modise, CEO of the GBCSA, says the Earth Hour movement has overtime developed into more than just switching off lights for an hour.
“It’s about collective action towards combating climate change. It’s about going beyond the hour through daily decisions aimed at conserving our natural resources and about being informed and spreading awareness about opportunities for collective action,” says Modise.
The following are some of the fun ideas that residents can explore to mark Earth Hour:
- Join a guided night tour of the Johannesburg Zoo;
- Camp out in the garden with a campfire and marshmallows;
- Go old school and play card or board games like we did before the advent of TV;
- Share a romantic candle-lit dinner with your loved ones;
- Go stargazing in your own garden. If you don’t have a telescope, don’t worry. Just darkness, a blanket and a picnic will be enough for a perfect star-gazing hour;
- Try candle-lit yoga; and
- If you are a “city animal”, why not take a walk around town and see what has been switched off in your city?