Lights off for Earth Hour in Singapore

Alice Chia Channel NewsAsia 29 Mar 14;

SINGAPORE: Earth Hour came to Singapore, and was observed for an hour from 8.30pm on Saturday.

The environmental campaign saw record participation from 350 organisations, who pledged to switch off their lights in their bid to help save the planet.

At the flagship event in Singapore was Earth Hour's global super hero ambassador Spider-Man.

Lending star power to the celebrations were the cast of the "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" -- Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Jamie Foxx.

They helped to switch off the lights at over 60 iconic structures across the Marina Bay skyline.

Members of the public too joined in the fun while learning about the use of sustainable energy sources.

In the activity, Energy Floors, they showed off their dance moves on a huge mat that converts kinetic energy from footwork into electricity.

Joining other organisations in supporting Earth Hour was Singapore's leading media company MediaCorp.

Bright digital screens at malls and bus stops were switched off from 8.30pm to 9.30pm.

It is part of an initiative by MediaCorp's outdoor advertising arm, OOH Media, to show its concern for the environment, and encourage the public to save electricity.

OOH media has over 70 digital screens in bus shelters and malls in Singapore.

Malls supporting the initiative include ION Orchard, JCube and The Star Vista.

- CNA/de

Singapore gets set for Earth House
Grace Chua The Straits Times AsiaOne 30 Mar 14;

SINGAPORE - Property consultant Ho Wai Man, 54, leads a team that has worked since 2009 to trim his condominium's use of resources by reducing the number of lights and turning off water features during dry spells.

He also tries to make his neighbours at Floravale more environmentally aware; so, tomorrow, residents of the Jurong West condominium will take part in Earth Hour for the second time. About 300 to 400 of them are expected to attend a low-key, candle-lit get-together by the pool. Last year, about 200 people turned up.

The neighbourhood is among a handful taking part in the annual event, which was started in 2007 by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Sydney.

Neighbourhoods in West Coast, Hong Kah, Tampines West and Simei will mark Earth Hour by asking residents to switch off their lights between 8.30pm and 9.30pm tomorrow, and attend community get-togethers. At Woodlands and Marine Parade, star gazing has been organised.

Companies and organisations are also getting in on the act. The i Light Marina Bay light show will go dark for the hour, as will 63 buildings around Marina Bay, including the ArtScience Museum.

Supermarket chain FairPrice will turn off non-essential lights at its 120 outlets between 8.30pm and closing time. Its 24-hour stores will forgo lights until 7am.

More than 5,000 people are expected to be at The Float @ Marina Bay from 5pm tomorrow, as Earth Hour is celebrated with music performances and a carnival.

Globally, buildings like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Burj Khalifa in the United Arab Emirates will go dark for an hour.

Property company CapitaLand Group said non-essential lights will be turned off for the hour or more in its 230 buildings in 20 countries. Last year, about 345 million people in more than 154 countries and 7,000 cities marked Earth Hour. The event's carbon footprint will be monitored and offset against carbon purchases, said the WWF.

But Earth Hour was always meant to go beyond the day's festivities. It "started out as a lights-off campaign, but always dreamed of being something much bigger", said Earth Hour Global co-founder Andy Ridley.

WWF Singapore chief executive Elaine Tan said people here are asked to pledge to raise air- conditioning by 1 deg C, use lower-energy LED lights and fewer plastic bags and take shorter showers. About 20,000 such pledges are expected this year, 43 per cent more than the 14,000 made last year. These include pledges by Marina Bay Sands, Singapore Post and furniture giant Ikea.

Awareness is crucial as Singapore's carbon footprint increases with the size of its economy. So how effective is Earth Hour?

Assistant Professor Sonny Rosenthal, an expert on environmental communication at Nanyang Technological University, said: "It's probably one of the best-known environmental campaigns, involving millions of people around the world every year.

"So in terms of name recognition and getting people to do that one little environmental action, it's very successful."

But that may not necessarily translate into more, he said.

Still, Earth Hour can help community members like Mr Ho introduce others to sustainable behaviour, added Prof Rosenthal.

Lights off for Earth Hour's global crowdfunding call
AFP AsiaOne 29 Mar 14;

SINGAPORE - Lights went off in thousands of cities and towns across the world on Saturday for the annual Earth Hour campaign, which is aiming to raise money via the Internet for local environmental projects.

The Singapore-based campaign by conservation group WWF was boosted by Hollywood star power, with "The Amazing Spiderman-2" stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone and Jamie Foxx leading ceremonies at the city-state's Marina Bay district.

Comic-book hero Spiderman is this year's "ambassador" for Earth Hour, which was launched in Sydney in 2007.

Sydney's Opera House and Harbour Bridge were among the first landmarks around the world to dim their lights for 60 minutes during Saturday's event.

An estimated 7,000 cities and towns from New Zealand to New York are taking part.

Hong Kong's stunning waterfront skyline was unrecognisable on Saturday evening, with the city's tallest skyscraper, the International Commerce Centre, stripped of the vast light show usually wrapped around its 118 stories.

Blazing neon signs advertising some of the world's largest brands were shut off, leaving the view of the heavily vertical southern Chinese city peppered only with tiny lights from buildings' interiors.

Earth Hour partnered with payments giant PayPal to allow donors to contribute to specific projects from Russia and India to Canada and Indonesia, using Asian fundraising site Crowdonomic.

Earth Hour chief executive Andy Ridley said before the lights went off in Singapore that the event had moved beyond symbolism to concrete action.

"If you want to get real social change you need to have symbolism," he told AFP.

"We are seeing some really big outcomes."

Projects under the "Earth Hour Blue" crowdfunding scheme - which aim to raise more than $650,000 in total - include a turtle centre in Italy and funding for forest rangers in Indonesia.

The event is being marked in more than 150 countries, organisers said, estimating that thousands of cities and towns would have taken part by the time the ceremonies began in Singapore.

The projects seeking crowdfunding include a 24,000-dollar effort in the Philippines to bring fibreglass boat technology to coastal communities affected by super typhoon Haiyan in November last year.

In Nepal, $100,000 is being sought for a programme called "A Flame Called Hope" to provide access to biogas energy for 150 households in the Terai region, reducing the need for wood as fuel and helping protect the habitat of endangered wildlife, according to the Earth Hour website.

Spiderman-2 star Garfield told journalists that he was a personal supporter of the Nepal project.

"What they are doing is turning waste into energy, it's like the cycle of life right there, if only everyone knew how simple it was," he said.

Earth Hour will see other landmarks including the Empire State Building in New York, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Kremlin in Moscow switch off their lights for an hour starting at 8:30 pm local time on Saturday.