Earth Hour 2013: Canadians Join Millions Around The World In 7th Annual Event

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EARTH HOUR
Canadians will be joining millions of others around the globe to mark Earth Hour this evening. | ESA/NASA

TORONTO - Canadians joined millions of others around the globe to mark Earth Hour Saturday.

The World Wildlife Fund, the driving force behind Earth Hour, said 13-million Canadians turned off their lights for an hour last year in the symbolic event aimed at drawing awareness to climate change.

It was unclear on Saturday if that figure was topped.

Nova Scotia Power reported a drop of five megawatts from 14.11 to 14.06 megawatts during the hour that people were asked to turn off their lights.

The Independent Electricity System Operator, which coordinates Ontario's electricity needs, said there was a 2.7 per cent drop in demand in Ontario during Earth Hour or 448 megawatts. The drop is more than the average peak energy needs of a city the size of Burlington, the agency said.

Earth Hour is embraced by hundreds of Canadian municipalities and many utilities have Earth Hour sections posted on their websites.

B.C. Hydro, for example, has a way for many of its customers to compare their electricity use during Earth Hour with their normal power usage.

Steven Price, a conservation director with the World Wildlife Fund, says municipalities are a driving force behind Earth Hour.

"Now if we could get the provinces, territories and federal government more interested, we'll be getting somewhere. And Earth Hour is meant to send a message, even if it's quote a dark one, to them."

His hope may not be so far away.

B.C. Environment Minister Terry Lake posted a message on B.C. Hydro's website urging all residents in the province to power down tonight to show their concern for the global environment.

New Brunswick Environment Minister Bruce Fitch posted a similar message on the website of NB Power.

"This is an important initiative that highlights ways that we can impact our energy consumption and lessen our environmental footprint," Fitch said in a statement.

The city of Vancouver is carrying a global earth hour banner. The WWF picked Vancouver as its Global Earth Hour Capital over 66 other cities around the world. It's a recognition of the city's efforts to reduce pollution that causes climate change. The city also received the highest number of online votes in a People's Choice ballot.

The challenges of dealing with climate change can be enormous and can seem overwhelming, but we shouldn't underestimate the difference Canadians can make, Price said.

"One way to start doing that is have a moment when you turn the lights out and say 'I'm starting right now and I'm sending a message to my family but also to my government representatives and I'm going to re-examine how I use fossil fuels -- coal, oil and gas -- in my household.'"

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the UN headquarters in New York City will join more than 7,000 cities and towns in more than 150 countries and territories for Earth Hour.

"We participate with an undimmed determination to take action on climate change," he said.

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