bhutan to join hundreds of other countries to observe earth hour as the clock strikes 8:30pm tonight

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Last year, more than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries worldwide switched off their lights for Earth Hour, sending a powerful message for action on climate change

For the first time Bhutan will officially participate in the Earth Hour tonight by switching off the lights at the memorial chorten in Thimphu.

“Last year, 135 countries across the planet took part in the big Earth Hour switch-off – this year we’re delighted to say we’ve been joined by a few new ones, including Bhutan and Iraq,” states the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

WWF together with Bhutan Ecological Society (BEST) and Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment will observe the global movement at memorial chorten.

Yangchi Pema of the WWF-Bhutan said the lights at the memorial chorten will be switched off for an hour from 8.30pm to 9.30pm while prior to the earth hour videos of earth hour will be shown.

More than 200 people are expected to participate at the event. “We have even sent invitations to the schools in Thimphu to participate in the event,” said Yangchi Pema.

She said schools in other parts of the country were also suggested to observe the event even though they will not be able to participate in the capital.

This year as it is the first time Bhutan is participating in the event, the memorial chorten has been selected as the venue.

“The memorial chorten is a significant landmark in Thimphu as everyone gathers here for prayers. This would be a good start to kick off the event in Bhutan,” she added.

She said the earth hour is observed to spread awareness on climate change. “It is about getting people to come together and show support for a common cause,” said Yangchi Pema.

Last year, more than 5,200 cities and towns in 135 countries worldwide switched off their lights for Earth Hour 2011. In Bhutan a few observed the earth hour last year including the agriculture minister Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho and the staff of the United Nations (UN) in Bhutan.

The UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon in a video message said this year UN will join people, organizations and businesses around the world in switching off the lights for the earth hour.

“Turning off our lights is a symbol of our commitments to sustainable energy for all. By acting together today we can power a brighter tomorrow,” said Ban Ki -moon.

Prominent public figures all around the world pledge their support by observing the earth hour.

Agriculture minister Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho joined the Australian Prime Minsiter Gillard, UK Prime Minsiter David Cameron, Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos, Honduran President Porfirio Lobo and a group of other international leaders on board to observe the event last year.

Speaking to Business Bhutan then, the agriculture minister said there is only one earth and it is the responsibility of everyone to do whatever to save the earth.

“The gesture of switching off the lights for one hour and save energy will expand the life of our planet earth,” said Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho.

Earth Hour is a global initiative in partnership with WWF where individuals, businesses, governments and communities around the world are invited to turn off their lights for one hour to show their support for an environmentally sustainable action.

The event began in Sydney in 2007, through a partnership between WWF Australia, Leo Burnett and Fairfax Media, when 2mn people in one city switched off their lights.