Earth Hour – the phenomenon that was started in Australia and embraced by the world – is returning at 8.30pm on 23 March. This year Australian’s are not just switching off their lights for an hour, many are also pledging to switch to renewable energy.

This year organisers are looking to beat last year’s participation of 152 nations, and 7001 cities involved in the 60 minute gesture to achieve permanent change in global energy use. Landmark sites such as the Sydney Opera House, the Petronas Towers and the Empire State Building will all switch off their lights for an hour from 8:30pm on Saturday night.

This year, Earth Hour isn’t just about switching off the lights for Australian’s. Thousands of Australian’s are pledging to join the already 1.5 million Australian homes that have made the switch to green and solar energy. A survey commissioned by event organisers, WWF, found Australians want renewable energy to supply 27 per cent of total energy needs by 2020. Organisers suggest that by making a pledge it will send a clear message to the government on Australian’s support of the renewable energy targets. This is in light of the recent review of the 20% target for 2020, and increasing pressure from industry groups and power companies to lower the renewable target set.

Earth hour was started 7 years ago and is now the largest global movement for the environment. The symbolic action has been influential in making global environmental changes such as the planting of the “Earth Hour Forest” in Uganda, and influencing government decisions.

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