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Last Updated: Saturday, 31 March 2007, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
Sydney in climate change blackout
Image showing Sydney skyline before and during the blackout
Sydney's famous skyline (top image) was shrouded in darkness
Lights have been turned off across Australia's largest city, Sydney, in a hour-long event aimed at raising awareness of global warming.

At 1930 (0930 GMT) the city's skyline dimmed and normally bright landmarks like the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge went dark.

The so-called Earth Hour is supported by the New South Wales government, environmental groups and businesses.

Sydney hopes the event will make a very big statement on climate change.

The city of four million people is aiming to become the first anywhere to achieve a blackout on this scale.

The BBC's Phil Mercer, in Sydney, says by and large Sydney had never been this dark.

He says lights were off in the majority of the central business district's office blocks and large parts of the suburbs were also in darkness.

Co-operation

Greg Bourne of environmental group WWF, one of the driving forces behind Earth Hour, said the big switch off took months to plan.

"The logistics is really quite amazing in the sense every tower block is owned by one company, maybe leased by another company, have 10 tenants in and a manager and working through all of these people has been fantastic."

Many restaurants signed up and planned to serve diners by candlelight.

The owner of the Newtown Hotel, which says it is Australia's oldest gay bar, told the BBC before the blackout that they would have fun while trying to send a serious message.

"Sometimes drag queens [female impersonators] do look better in the dark anyway," said Roger Zee.

"It's up to the patrons. They'll actually have their own torches so they'll be able to light up the drag queens on the stage themselves."

Organisers want to encourage Australians to conserve energy and to think carefully about what they can do to cut pollution.

Every day millions of lights and computers are left on in deserted office blocks as well as in apartments and houses.

Campaigners have said that simply switching them off could reduce Sydney's greenhouse gas emissions by 5% over the next year.

Australia is one of the world's largest per capita producers of carbon dioxide and other gases that many scientists believe are helping to warm the earth's atmosphere.


A selection of your comments

We turned our household lights off for Earth Hour, although realistically it didn't make any difference to the amount of greenhouse gases generated. I think most Sydneysiders saw Earth Hour as a way of expressing our growing awareness of the need to do something about the factors contributing to climate change rather than a 'fix' for any part of the problem. To that extent, it was a success.
Phil Keeffe, Sydney, Australia

Why doesn't John Howard and his Premiers sign up to Kyoto instead of pulling off publicity stunts. Perhaps this will get the residents of Australia to think and put pressure on their 'leaders' to do so.
Andrew, Brisbane (soon to be Edinburgh)

Have we already forgotten that Paris tried this too on the occasion of the International Panel on Climate Change conference just a month ago? The Eiffel tower lights went off, but most ordinary people did nothing. At least for Paris we got numbers on the amount of power saved. What for Sydney?
Robert Cailliau, Prevessin, France

Well done Sydney! Every city should follow. I am not that old and I remember when public lights in cities were off from 11pm to 6am!
gerome mortelecque, Toronto Canada

One hour? how much difference will that make to climate change.
adrian, ashby de la zouch

Kudos to Sydney! Hong Kong made a similar attempt last year but unlike its counterpart in New South Wales, the government refused to participate in the campaign, claiming that it would give "adverse publicity to Hong Kong as an international metropolis". Let's hope that the precedent set by Sydney will help persuade other cities, and their governments, to follow suit.
C. Chan, Hong Kong

It's true. Sydney has never been so dark. Fantastic! Thank you to WWF for organising such an event. Australian's are cyring out for ways to get involved and make a difference.
Kath Eggleston, Sydney

I live in Sydney and I can assure you that the 'blackout' didn't happen. The lights on the bridge and opera house were turned off but the publicity stunt was completely ignored by the vast majority of ordinary people here. The vast majority of people here did not turn off their lights.
Nick Mallory, Sydney

Amazing! Very glad to hear of something like this happening. Mr. Mallory, even if most people didn't turn of their lights, I'm sure you would agree that the 'stunt' at least got the world talking and citizens of other large cities wanting/working towards something similar. Nicely done Sydney!
Raj Trivedi, Houston, Texas USA

Good on the Aussies! Why isn't every country doing this???
Lee, Bournemouth

I'd like to commend Australia for taking such a bold initiative. One can only imagine the scale of positive impact this can have if all the world's major cities observed voluntary blackouts even for a few minutes if not hours.
Adithya Hanbal, Michigan, USA



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Darkness falls across many parts of Sydney



SEE ALSO
Australia launches climate plans
23 Oct 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Howard rejects emissions targets
16 Aug 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Australia drought sparks suicides
19 Oct 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Q&A: The Kyoto Protocol
16 Feb 05 |  Science/Nature
Country profile: Australia
11 Jul 06 |  Country profiles

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