City switches off for Earth Hour

City switches off for Earth Hour

090330_18.jpg
090330_18.jpg

Businesses around the capital, and the world, plunged into darkness

Saturday night to show their support for Earth Hour and global action

against climate change

Photo by: TRACEY SHELTON

All lights out at Phnom Penh’s FCC for Earth Hour.

If you had to eat in the dark on Saturday night you weren't alone, as businesses in the capital and around the world plunged into darkness to show their support for action against climate change.

The Hotel InterContinental, the Foreign Correspondents Club and Alley Cat were among the Phnom Penh locales that participated in Earth Hour, a global initiative where people turned off their lights between 8:30pm and 9:30pm in a symbolic gesture directed at world leaders.

Billed as the first worldwide election "between earth and global warming", the conservation group WWF-backed event, which is in its third year, aimed for a billion participants throughout the world.

FCC patron Terrence Hodges, from England, said he did not mind having to drink his beer in the dark.

"I think it's a great idea, especially in a place like [the FCC] that's got so much history," he said.

However, he had mixed feelings about whether climate change was caused by man or was part of the earth's natural cycle.

"Climate change is a good excuse for taxation, but I suppose if some of it goes towards climate change, that's good. I'd love the planet to be saved, I mean I've got children and a grandchild."

I'd love the planet to be saved, I mean I've got children and grandchildren.

Restaurant manager Benjamin Le Grand said nobody seemed to mind the hour-long blackout and most of the mainly foreign crowd had been aware of Earth Hour and the message behind it.

"They seemed quite OK to eat by candles," he said. "But we had some people come in and say they wanted some light, [and] then leave."

Earth Hour global spokeswoman Clare Treacy said that while Cambodia had not officially signed up, it was great to see local businesses participating.

"It will be fantastic if they come on board," she said, adding they hoped to see Cambodia sign up officially.

She said participation in Earth Hour, which began in Sydney in 2007, had been huge, with more than 4,000 cities and towns in around 90 countries involved - a target they had previously thought ambitious.

"It looks like [Earth Hour] really has gone off with a bang," she said.

The lights were out at famous landmarks around the world, including Big Ben in London, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, the Empire State Building in New York and the pyramids in Egypt.

WWF intends to present the results at a conference on climate change in Copenhagen later this year, where governments will try to confirm a successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, to which Cambodia is a signatory.

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