NGO asks Delhi, Mumbai to switch off for an hour

March 10th, 2009 - 6:26 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) The Indian branch of international NGO World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is calling upon every resident of Delhi and Mumbai to switch off their lights and all electrical appliances for an hour at 8.30 p.m. March 28 to convey their support for action to combat climate change.
Such an appeal to citizens who regularly reel from blackouts lasting for hours may sound ridiculous to some, but WWF India head Ravi Singh does not think so.

“It’s a symbolic move that can have a major impact, just as the campaign against crackers in Diwali became a big movement,” he said. That campaign, mainly run in schools, cleaned up Delhi’s air on Diwali nights to a great extent.

“I’m not asking Indians to reduce energy consumption,” Ravi Singh said, aware that an estimated 40 percent of Indian households is not even connected to the electricity grid. “The message we are sending out is - reduce waste. This should find an echo among Indians, who don’t like waste anyway.”

The campaign is part of the Earth Hour initiative, which started in 2007 with the residents of Sydney switching off all lights and electrical appliances for an hour. Delhi and Mumbai will be the first two Indian cities joining the campaign in its third year.

WWF India spokesperson Shaila Sam said 500 cities in 75 countries will switch off this year as part of the campaign.

Expecting a massive response from citizens of Delhi and Mumbai, Sam said that right now every seven minutes someone somewhere in the world was registering online to become part of the Earth Hour campaign.

The campaign is part of the effort to focus the attention of policymakers around the world of the need to step up the combat against climate change, which is being caused by increasing concentration of greenhouse gases - mainly carbon dioxide - in the atmosphere. Thermal power plants are among the major sources of carbon dioxide emissions. The Earth Hour campaign is expected to highlight the need to conserve energy.

Most of the extra carbon dioxide now in the atmosphere has been put there by industrialised countries.

Reminded of this and asked why developing countries should be part of the campaign, Ravi Singh said: “Yes, climate change has not been created by us but it is our disaster. We hope that this campaign will help people everywhere to reform themselves.”

Sam said many schools, colleges and offices in Delhi and Mumbai were planning to take part in the campaign. Bollywood star Aamir Khan has pledged to switch off all lights and electrical appliances during Earth Hour.

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