Singapore: More than 150 Indian cities will participate in the Earth Hour on Saturday, joining over 7,000 of their counterparts across the world in raising awareness about climate change and its impact.
"We expect to increase the number of cities in India this year from last year's 150," said Andy Ridley, CEO and co-founder of the Earth Hour Global of the WWF International, the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).
The Earth Hour, which began in 2007 in Sydney, appeals to people and businesses to switch off lights for an hour to raise awareness about climate change. Last year, India's smaller urban towns like Guna, Etawah and Madla joined the campaign along with big metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and other state capitals.
Andy Ridley also added that the Earth Hour City Challenge would further increase its reach and support in India through the launch of a mobile phone-based campaign in the coming years, and add more urban developments.
Across the world, over 150 countries will participate in the event on March 23. Palestine, Tunisia, Galapagos, Suriname, French Guyana, St.Helena and Rwanda would be among those joining the global movement for the first time.
"We aim to reach 2 billion people across the globe this year," Ridley said. Last year, the campaign reached 1.8 billion people, while in 2011 the figure stood at 1.2 billion. Ridley singled out the Russians support for the symbolic show last year.
Russian citizens have led the way for Earth Hour with WWF-Russia having collected 120,000 signatures for a petition to pass a long-awaited law to protect the country's seas from oil pollution last year.
"Russia has considerably raised the bar for Earth Hour and has become a shining example of the incredible environmental outcomes that can be achieved when people work together and take action beyond the hour," said Ridley.
Key landmarks participating in this year's switch off between 8.30-9.30PM include the Gateway of India, the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, The Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore's Marina Bay Sands, The Tokyo Tower, Taipei 101, The Bird's Nest in Beijing, The Burj Khalifa, Eiffel Tower, UK Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Empire State Building and Niagara Falls.