Wellington Switching off for Earth Hour

16 March 2009

With just under two weeks to go to Earth Hour, Wellington hospitality businesses including Fidels Cafe, the Welsh Dragon Bar and Café Italiano are planning to light up the candles on Saturday 28 March at 8.30pm.

Earth Hour is WWF's (the World Wide Fund for Nature) global climate change initiative, encouraging people around the world to switch off their non-essential lights and appliances for one hour - Earth Hour.

Wellington City Council's Environment Portfolio Leader, Councillor Ray Ahipene-Mercer, says the response so far has been very positive with a growing level of awareness and the City Council and British High Commission are asking everyone to get involved and do what they can for Earth Hour.

"WWF is aiming to get one billion people in 1,000 cities around the world to take part, which would make Earth Hour the largest mass-participation event in history. And Wellington's coming to the party.

"Fidels is going dark, Logan Brown will be serving guests by candlelight and you can have a drink for Earth Hour at the Welsh Dragon Bar and Nomads Capital.  The Youth Hostel Association (YHA) on Wakefield Street is doing its bit and customers will be serenaded by three members of the Vector Wellington Orchestra as they enjoy their candlelit dinner at Café Italiano.  We hope to confirm more soon.

"This is a practical way to express support but I wish to stress this is an early step in a much longer journey to address climate change challenges," says Cr Ahipene-Mercer.

The British High Commission is supporting Earth Hour in Wellington. Deputy High Commissioner Dr Mike Cherrett says Earth Hour is all about raising international awareness about climate change.

"Events like Earth Hour have certainly helped to raise awareness about climate change issues in the UK and we're delighted to participate in this year's event in New Zealand," says Dr Cherrett.

Wellington retailers are committed too - Starfish, Karen Walker and Trade Aid will be powering down for Earth Hour and Zealandia: the Karori Sanctuary Experience is holding Earth Hour night walks for adults and children. Across the country, Toyota dealerships, Body Shop stores, Burger Wisconsin and McDonalds restaurants and Starbucks shops will go dark as well.

Property managers CBRE and Jones Lang LaSalle have arranged for more than 50 of the city's large commercial buildings to go dark. Some of Wellington's most well-known buildings will switch off including Te Papa, the Beehive, the Railway Station, Victoria University, Grand Plimmer Tower, the Town Hall and the Majestic Centre. The Stock Exchange ticker tape and the screen on top of the Embassy Theatre will switch off for Earth Hour too.

"Six Wellington schools are participating as well - Queen Margaret's, Johnsonville, Miramar, Miramar North, Wellington High and Houghton Valley.  We hope to get more on board soon.

"We're encouraging the people and businesses of Wellington to make a stand and switch off for Earth Hour," says Cr Ahipene-Mercer.

Sign up on the Earth Hour website and be in the draw to win a Toyota Prius. And let the Council know what you're planning for Earth Hour - Zach Rissel is coordinating Earth Hour in Wellington and you can contact him on zach.rissel@wcc.govt.nz and (04) 499 4444.