How much energy could be saved worldwide in general and in Vietnam in particular during 60 minutes of darkness?
There are a lot of different estimates about how much energy is saved across the world when lights and electrical appliances are turned off during the hour. However, WWF doesn’t release energy saving estimates or calculate the emissions saved – that’s not the point.
The value of Earth Hour is not the energy saved but the actual lights going out. It’s a symbolic gesture – it’s a demonstration of public concern about climate change – it’s the people of the world saying they care about the future of the planet.
How many Vietnam-based organizations has the campaign managed to draw their participation so far?
WWF Vietnam’s Earth Hour 2009 was supported through partnerships and donations from the local and international business sector including, LG, Hilton Hanoi Opera, Sofitel Plaza and Metropole, Microsoft, ANZ bank, HSBC, Canon, Somerset, Nomura, Sherwood Residence, Apollo Language Center, Green Mango Restaurant, Leo Events, Sunway Hotels, Printing and Cultural Product Company, and Vietnam Airlines.
The 2010 campaign found support much easier, people are familiar with the campaign and ready to act. This year we are aiming for at least 1,000 businesses to participate. We already have 18 provinces signed up!
What specific results has the campaign delivered Eart Hour 2009?
It’s hard to measure specific results for a campaign like this because the results cannot be seen immediately. We’re doing this for the future of the planet and for future generations. We’ll be able to see if the action that people are taking now is successful, through campaigns like Earth Hour, in two or three generations time.
But I think the tangible benefits of Earth Hour for its participants and for the planet can be seen in the attitudes of the people who take part. You can see that people are now more aware about climate change and that they are more knowledgeable about their impact on the environment. At last year’s event the atmosphere was great – people really wanted to be a part of this and to make a difference. If they can take a positive attitude away from Earth Hour, and afterwards they ask themselves what else they can do to make a difference, then that’s the best we can ask for.
What is the role of the United Nations in this campaign?
Earth Hour is a campaign run and organized by WWF. We equip groups, individuals and businesses around the world with information about how they can take part in Earth Hour and raise awareness about climate change.
The UN and Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations General Secretary, pledged their support for last year’s Earth Hour. He said it had potential to be "the largest demonstration of public concern about climate change ever attempted." He offered his support and the UN was behind the event – they shut off all the lights in UN buildings across the world.
The UN is concerned about climate change and through events like Copenhagen 15 last December, and future meetings of global leaders, chaired by the UN, the world will hopefully be able to take positive action to mitigate some of the damage we’re doing to the planet.
What do you say to the critics who say that using candles instead of electricity is less environmentally friendly?
Like mentioned above, the Earth Hour campaign is not about the energy saved during the hour. We understand that candles aren’t efficient and we understand that by switching from one form of energy to another, you may still be releasing a comparable amount of carbon.
We’re asking people to switch off their lights for one hour so that they think about what that energy means and where it comes from. By doing so, participants are saying that they care about the future of the environment and are showing world leaders that they want measures to be taken so that our futures can be greener.
The planet cannot sustain the levels of energy consumption that we now have and will have, using fossil fuels. We know that we need to find green alternatives. To do this we need strong leadership from our governments because it requires decisive economic action – investment in renewable energy is not cheap!
But this event is also for individuals – for them to make a difference too. There’s a lot that individuals can do to live a greener life and to reduce the amount of energy they use, such as recycling waste products, turning off electrical appliances when not using them or using green forms of transport, like bicycles.
Earth Hour is about raising awareness and spreading information about climate change and the things you can do to make a difference. Lots of people are involved and they’re accessing a lot of information - you can look at the WWF website to find lots of suggestions for ways to lessen your impact on the environment. - http://www.panda.org/how_you_can_help/greenliving/