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Lights out as World Wildlife Fund celebrates Earth Hour to combat climate change


Landmarks worldwide have darkened to observe climate change. More than 150 countries joined in last year's Earth Hour, and the movement has spread even further for 2013.

The organizers of Earth Hour expected hundreds of millions of people worldwide to turn off their lights for 60 minutes at 8:30 p.m. local time Saturday in a symbolic show of support for the planet. Earth Hour originated in Sydney, Australia, as an appeal to people and businesses to turn off their lights for 60 minutes to acknowledge climate change. The Palestinian territories, Tunisia, Suriname and Rwanda pledged to take part for the first time in 2013.

"Earth Hour started right here in Australia, in one city, with one idea, " Dermot O'Gorman, the CEO of World Wildlife Fund-Australia, said in a statement posted to the nonprofit's website. "Now it has been embraced by the world. Earth Hour enables millions of people to connect across cultures and borders, show we care about our environment and commit to meaningful actions for our planet."

Sydney kicked off the event at 8:30 p.m. (0930 GMT), cutting lights to cheers and applause from a small crowd gathered to see the skyline dim and Sydney Opera House turn a deep green to symbolize renewable energy. Japan switched off soon after, dimming the Tokyo Tower as visitors pedaled stationary bicycles to generate power to illuminate an egg-shaped artwork.

Lights went off in Germany at Cologne's Dom cathedral, for example, and at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin (pictured). In Paris, otherwise the city of light, the Eiffel Tower went dark - but, for security reasons, only for five minutes.

mkg/mr (AFP, AP)

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