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Emerging Economies Boost Earth Hour 2011 Participation

Earth Hour 2011 © Hue Vietnam (c)Lê Anh Dũng - Huy Đức – Tâm Anh

The symbolic action of turning lights out for an hour in an expression of concern for the environment is in the process of being officially observed in thousands of communities across 134 countries and territories on all continents.

“We are seeing a boom in participation in many of the world’s emerging economies this year, an encouraging sign as these countries begin to take an increasingly prominent place on the world stage,” said WWF International Director General Jim Leape, present at India’s official switch off event at India Gate in New Delhi.

“The incredible participation in Earth Hour this year, especially right here in New Delhi, is testimony to a great concern about the health of the living resources on which we all depend, and a recognition that each of us can play a part in building a sustainable future,” he said.

Korea’s Largest Search Engine Supports Earth Hour

Korea‘s largest search engine – Naver – launched the day with a special logo (doodle) and featured the event on the five million user social network “Me2day”. Some 156 cities participated in the event, with the President’s office being dimmed for the occasion.

Human rights lawyer, Wonsoon Park, a recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay Award – Asia’s closest equivalent of the Nobel Peace Prize – was the official Ambassador for Earth Hour and led 500 people gathered in front of Seoul Tower for a count-down ceremony and the observance of a minute of silence for the victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Chengdu Launches Citywide Bicycle Plan, Shenyang Opts for Reforestation

In mainland China, 84 cities committed to go beyond the hour, with major urban centers from the southwest to northeast taking action for the planet.

In Chengdu, the symbolic lights-out event will be followed by an initiative that will see up to 60,000 low-cost rental bicycles made available for public use at over 1000 rental points city-wide. Meanwhile, on the other end of the country, Shenyang – a former industrial powerhouse – has pledged to reforest 96,000 acres this year to combat deforestation.

Beijing’s most famous landmarks including the Olympic sites – Bird’s Nest and Water Cube – have turned out their lights off for an hour. This is in addition to the China World Trade Centre Tower 3, the tallest building in Beijing.

The Shanghai World Financial Centre (the tallest building in all of China); the Jin Mao Tower; the Oriental Pearl Tower and People’s Square all switched off the lights in Shanghai. Furthermore, the city will create 1,000 hectares of new urban green space.

“WWF deeply appreciates the commitments cities are making across the country,” said Jim Gradoville, CEO of WWF-China. “These cities are keeping track of an evolving Earth Hour global movement, and rising to meet the need for real action for the environment. We welcome more cities to do the same.”

Chinese musical duo and Earth Hour China Ambassadors Yu Quan also released a Chinese-language theme song for Earth Hour 2011, “Turn off the Light”.

Hai Quan, one-half of the musical duo Yu Quan, said of the track, “The song comes from the heart. Our lyrics mention polar bears, and your heart lighting up when you help the Earth because those are things we think about and have experienced. We care deeply about the environment, and as musicians, one of the best ways we can protect it is through our craft’s ability to reach and touch people.”

In Hong Kong, the Victoria Harbour waterfront was plunged into darkness as the world’s largest permanent light and sound show was suspended for the evening. The Culture Centre at Tsim Sha Tsui hosted the official count-down ceremony which featured performances from Earth Hour Ambassadors Andox and Box. Government House switched off for Earth Hour for the first time this year, and National Geographic Asia suspended its normal programming for the hour.

5000 Mongolians Brave Minus Five Degrees

Mongolia celebrated its second Earth Hour with over 5,000 people ignoring temperatures of minus five degrees Celsius around a vast candle-lit Earth Hour logo in the main square of capital, Ulaan Baatar. All buildings around Sukbaatar Square coordinated a switch-off for the crowd and 10 national television stations. The hour of darkness was marked by recording commitments to Beyond the Hour actions, musical performances, and a fire show.

Vietnam also turned out impressively for Earth Hour, with 37 provinces and cities officially participating – nearly double the number of 2010. Lights went out on the Huc Bridge, Thap Rua, Ngoc Son Temple, and The Hanoi Opera House.

An event held by WWF in association with The People’s Committee of Hue City in Nghinh Luong Temple, saw the participation of leaders of Ministry of Industry and Trade, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, leaders of Hue city, representatives of departments, businesses, organizations, volunteers, citizens and media agencies. All held a minute’s silence to acknowledge the crisis in Japan and government representatives gave speeches.

Hue Television broadcast a concert directed by artist Huy Tuan that featured many talented, environmentally concerned singers including Mai Khoi, Le Cat Trong Ly, Ngoc Anh, Minh Chuyen, Manh Ninh, and Nguyen Duc Cuong and Earth Hour Vietnam ambassador Van Mai Huong, runner-up of Vietnam Idol 2010.

Glowing Dancers Light up Darkened Malaysia

In Malaysia, WWF-Malaysia Executive Director/CEO Dato’ Dr. Dionysius Sharma joined celebrities, the media and members of the public in a day-long Earth Hour throw-down featuring an eco-bazaar and live performances at Sunway Pyramid, a larger-than-life recreational theme park and shopping centre near the capital, Kuala Lumpur.