Climate Change & Earth Hour

15 March 2010

With less than two weeks to go until Earth Hour, Wellington is gearing up for the hour-long black-out that will help show our support for global action on climate change. We're supporting the World Wide Fund for
Nature's big switch-off - which happens at 8.30pm on Saturday 27 March - and encouraging local people and businesses to turn off their lights and appliances for the hour.

Some restaurants are switching to candlelit dining for Earth Hour

Some restaurants are switching to candlelit dining for Earth Hour

The Council's Senior Policy Advisor, Zach Rissel, says the event aims to get one billion people in 1,000 cities to take part in what has become a massive worldwide event.

"It's a symbolic gesture but one that helps highlight that climate change will affect every part of the planet, the need for collective action and the fact we can all help make a difference. It's the ideal time to start thinking about simple changes we can all make to reduce energy use and help reduce the city's greenhouse gas emissions," he says.

We will be turning off non-essential lights in our buildings and facilities. For safety reasons, traffic lights and street lights will remain in operation and some lights will be required in the Town Hall and Michael Fowler Centre where a kapa haka event will take place. All Council pools will close at 7.30pm.

The Beehive and Parliament Buildings are among the larger buildings that will be switching off. The lights at the top of the Majestic Centre will be off, along with those outside the Railway Station. Train services will run as usual with lights on inside.

Hummingbird, Logan Brown and Sweet Mother's Kitchen were some of the first restaurants to offer candlelit dinners. Logan Brown is also giving eight lucky diners a free meal. To be in the draw for one of four bistro meals for two, simply email earthhour@wwf.org.nz saying in 30 words or less why or how you plan to celebrate Earth Hour.

Zach says the Council is determined to help ensure Wellington becomes a truly sustainable city and will seek feedback next month on the draft 2010 Climate Change Action Plan - a plan that will help us build on the great things that have been done so far.

The Council has been working on several fronts that will all have climate change benefits. Retaining the city's compact form and encouraging more people to live in the central city has seen the percentage of vehicle commuting trips drop in favour of walking, cycling and public transport.

Among other things, we're also incorporating lots of energy-saving features into our rental housing units as we upgrade them and encourage the development of green buildings. We're also introducing bus priority measures and looking at the potential to use new technology to convert sewage sludge into energy. Methane - a greenhouse gas - is already being collected at the city's landfill and used to produce enough electricity to power 1,000 households, thanks to our partnership with Todd Energy.

Read the Our Wellington page or check our website next month for more information on our Climate Change Action Plan and don't forget to let us know what you're planning for Earth Hour by emailing earth.hour@wcc.govt.nz.