Many dim lights for ‘Earth Hour’

The Canadian Press
Morgan Lowrie

MONTREAL—Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was one of many Canadians who joined millions around the world Saturday night in turning off their lights for “Earth Hour.”
Government buildings and monuments across the country also went dim from 8:30-9:30 p.m. local time, including Toronto’s CN tower, the cross on Montreal’s Mount Royal, and Edmonton’s High Level bridge.
Trudeau tweeted a photo of himself and his wife, Sophie Gregoire Trudeau, cuddling by candlelight Saturday evening.
“We’re all on this planet together,” he tweeted, hinting the upcoming federal budget would contain measures to deal climate change.
“Tweeting about #EarthHour is one thing,” Trudeau noted.
“[On] Tuesday, we’ll put words into action with a budget that builds a clean economy for Canada.”
Some of Trudeau’s cabinet ministers also took to social media.
Environment minister Catherine McKenna posted a series of tweets while International Trade minister Chrystia Freeland also noted the occasion.
The event’s main organizer said the leaders’ support was a welcome addition to the 10th edition of the event, which was launched in Australia in 2007 as a way to draw attention to environmental issues including climate change.
“Seeing national, provincial, and municipal leaders take part, and encourage others to take part, shows that ‘Earth Hour’ is more than a symbolic gesture,” said David Miller, CEO of WWF-Canada.
“It’s a message to change climate change that’s heard by those in positions of political power.”
Miller said a record-setting 178 countries and territories participated this year.
Canadians also participated in a range of activities in cities across the country, which ranged from a star-gazing event in Westmount, Que. to a low-light skate at Whistler, B.C’s Olympic Plaza.
It was not immediately clear how many Canadians took part in this year’s “Earth Hour.”
Toronto Hydro tweeted Saturday night that the city’s electricity use dipped by 3.2 percent, which the utility said was the equivalent of taking 36,000 homes off the grid.
PowerStream, which serves nine municipalities north of Toronto, reported a 4.3 percent drop in electricity consumption during “Earth Hour.”
That was down slightly from the six percent reduction achieved last year.
The City of Edmonton tweeted yesterday morning that the city decreased its energy use by 2.5 percent.
While “Earth Hour” grew to include 7,000 cities worldwide last year, some say the event has been losing steam in recent years—at least in Canada.
BC Hydro, for example, said British Columbians reduced the provincial electricity load during “Earth Hour” by just 0.2 percent last year—much less than the two percent reduction recorded in 2008.
Miller said critics who measure the event’s success in megawatt hours are missing the point.
He said the event’s goal is to raise awareness, have fun, and celebrate recent successes, such as the international co-operation shown by global leaders at the Paris climate conference.
Miller added political leaders seem to be getting the message that Canadians care about climate change.
“Now we need to see it reflected in action,” he stressed.