Switched Off for Change
New Zealand was one of the first countries to switch of its power for this year’s Earth Hour event aimed at highlighting environmental problems caused by excessive use of energy. Forty-four New Zealand cities, towns and districts took part in the event, when people were encouraged to power down from 8:30 at night to show support for action on climate change. Power consumption in New Zealand dropped 3.5 per cent during Earth Hour, national grid operator TransPower said. The 600 residents on the remote Chatham Islands, 800 kilometres east of the mainland, kicked off the event by switching off their diesel generators. In Antarctica, New Zealand’s 26-member winter team at Scott Base, where temperatures are close to -30 degrees Celsius, shut down to minimum safety lighting and switching off all unnecessary appliances and computers. Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) chief executive Mike Underhill said that by plunging cities and towns into darkness, Earth Hour illustrated the power of collective action to reduce energy use and carbon emissions.