Vanuatu Is Our Wake Up Call: Reminding Us To Commit To Earth Hour

(3BL Media/Justmeans) - Vanuatu is in urgent need after Cyclone Pam tore through the country on the weekend of March 14-15. President Baldwin Lonsdale said the storm had "wiped out" all development of recent years and his country would have to rebuild "everything.” Aid agencies believe it could be one of the worst disasters ever to hit the region. This is a vast archipelago; the population is spread over more than 60 islands and it is difficult for the authorities to have a true picture of the devastation. However, it's clear the number of dead will increase when communications are made with the outlying area. Critically though, the President has stated that climate change had contributed to the disaster, saying his country had seen changing weather patterns, rising seas and heavier-than-average rain.

Vanuatu is a very timely story as the countdown to World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Earth Hour begins, where nations, cities, companies and individuals prepare to take part in the world’s largest grassroots movement to draw attention to the need for bold climate action. This year, on 28 March from 8.30pm to 9.30pm local time, millions of people across the world will switch off their lights. This is an action that is more than a commitment to the planet: it signifies a global call to action to change climate change. As world leaders prepare for this year’s United Nation’s climate talks, Earth Hour comes at a critical point to ignite climate action conversations on a local level. Now, more than ever, individual and local actions are needed to reduce the global impact on the planet.

Countries around the world are committing to reduce their carbon emissions in an effort to work toward a new global agreement to tackle climate change. This is the time to collectively come together, wherever we may be in the world, to raise our voices and demand strong action from world leaders. This year is the ninth annual Earth Hour celebration. Local climate efforts are being recognised through WWF’s Earth Hour City Challenge, a yearlong challenge honouring cities reducing their carbon footprint and responding to the threats of climate change.

Selected from 44 U.S. entrants, Evanston, IL will represent the U.S. as the 2015 Earth Hour City capitol. Evanston follows in the footsteps of neighbouring Chicago, last year’s capitol. Evanston is an established and credible climate leader, setting strong sustainability standards for all new buildings and retrofitted existing facilities, installing solar panels on its water treatment facility, and using a municipal aggregation program to provide hundred percent renewable electricity for all homes and small businesses.

Earth Hour was started by WWF in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when more than two million people participated. Now, Earth Hour engages more than 162 countries and territories and millions of people around the world. Remember to switch off.

Photo Credit: WWF Earth Hour