It all started in 2007. The date was March 31st and the place was Sydney. At an appointed hour, 2.2 million people turned off their lights for an hour, their aim to show their sceptical government how much the people of Sydney really cared and were concerned about climate change. It turned out they were not alone. Earth Hour caught on very quickly: by the following year, some 50 million people across 35 countries had joined in, as cultural landmarks such as the Colosseum and the Gold Gate Bridge plunged themselves into darkness in solidarity. A further year on from that, by 2009, WWF’s Earth Hour had become the world’s largest grassroots movement for the environment.

We are, of course, now sixteen years on from that inaugural event and the effects of climate change are being keenly felt across the world in real time. The earth is warming, sea levels are rising, and our planet’s rainfall patterns are changing. The result of all this is then felt manifested as heatwaves, droughts, floods and fire. It has, then, never been more important to show how deeply turning the tide on climate change by radically changing the way we consume matters to each and every one of us. And we can start by participating in Earth Hour 2023.

It’s organisers say, ‘More than 15 years later, we are now at a tipping point with our climate and nature crises, putting at risk the fate of our one home and all our futures. We are on course to breach by 2030 the 1.5°C global temperature increase limit set by the Paris Climate Agreement, and nature – the source of our very livelihoods and one of our biggest allies against the climate crisis – is also under severe threat, facing alarming and unprecedented rates of loss globally.

‘The next 7 years are therefore crucial to all our futures - we have to stay under the 1.5°C climate threshold to avoid irreversible damage to our planet, and we need to reverse nature loss by 2030, ending the decade with more nature and biodiversity than we started, not less. To make this happen, individuals, communities, businesses, and governments must all urgently step up their efforts to protect and restore our one home.

With this 2030 goal in mind, we too must step things up. So, this year, we’re breathing new life into Earth Hour – our brand, our work, our message, and our mission – creating the Biggest Hour for Earth. How? By calling on our supporters across the globe to switch off their lights and give an hour for Earth, spending 60 minutes doing something - anything - positive for our planet.’

So how can you make a difference?

First off, simply turn the lights off for an hour from between 8.30pm and 9.30pm on 23 March 2024. During that time, WWF encourages participants to do something positive for the environment, such as reading educational articles on biodiversity and nature loss or listening to podcasts on the environment (BBC’s Earth or WWF’s Forces of Nature are good places to start).

You might also consider organising an event and/or posting about #BiggestHourForEarth to engage you community, whether online or IRL. If you are thinking of hosting, you can download Earth Hour’s wealth of ideas here.

Finally, Earth Hour is, of course, about much more than a single hour. Beyond the symbolism of the mass event, it is vital that we all do our bit on a daily basis. Various ways in which we can all contribute include eating more sustainably (think less meat and fish and a greater diversity of vegetables – and ideally those that have been locally grown). You can also minimise what you throw away (currently one third of all the food we buy goes in the bin), so do use leftovers and consider composting if you have waste. Additionally, proactively ensure you are saving water, practicing energy efficiency, being mindful of how you consume and protecting our natural spaces as best you can.

By Nancy Alsop
Updated February 2024