News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Sunday April 21st 2019

SA celebs to turn out the lights and save the planet

Yugendree Naidoo

A star-studded list of South African celebrities have joined a global effort to raise awareness on climate change by getting one billion people in 1,000 cities to literally turn out the lights. Swimmer Ryk Neethling, comedian Marc Lottering, former Miss SA Jo-Ann Strauss, popular band Freshlyground, rugby speedster Bryan Habana and Joburg-based football team Moroka Swallows have all thrown their names behind Earth Hour 2009, of which Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is a patron.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) initiative invites individuals, businesses, governments and communities to turn out their lights for one hour on March 28 at 8:30pm to show their support for action on climate change.

Thursday marked the official launch of the campaign in South Africa, with a video conference link-up between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The Cape Town event, which took place at the V&A Waterfront, was graced with the presence of Strauss, e-tv weatherman Derek van Dam and the CEO of Moroka Swallows, Leon Prins. Rock band The Parlotones attended the Johannesburg event, held in Sandton.

WWF CEO Dr Morne du Plessis said talk about climate change had been put on the backburner by the global economic meltdown, but needed to be put back on the agenda.

He said 2009 was “critical” for mankind. A climate change conference due to take place in Copenhagan would be a deciding moment in the global effort to halt climate change.

The goal of Copenhagen was to agree on a new global climate deal to reduce emissions that cause climate change. The current global deal, the Kyoto protocol, expires in 2012, he said.

Top Billing presenter and former Miss South Africa
Jo-Anne Strauss said in order to leave a legacy for their children everyone needed to “mobilize and vocalize” against global warming.

Strauss said it was exciting to know that the Southern Hemisphere had begun the initiative. Developing countries such as South Africa needed to be proactive.

“I’m proud to be part of it,” she said.

She said there was a need for celebrities to “go out there and spread the word”.

Moroka Swallows Football Club CEO Leon Prins said the club was proud to be involved in the initiative.

“Saving this planet of ours must be a priority for all its inhabitants and I appeal to all football lovers to join the team in signing up for Earth Hour.”

Prins said by standing together a message could be sent to the governments of the world to act against climate change.

“Although initially most of the players were not aware of global warming they have all now pledged their support,” he said.

Prins challenged other teams in the Premier Soccer League (PSL) to pledge their support.

The Earth Hour initiative initially kicked off in 2007 in Sydney when two million people switched off their lights, followed by more than 50 million people around the globe in 2008.

To date more than 538 cities and towns in 75 countries have already committed to Earth Hour 2009.

Global landmarks on the planet will also go dark for an hour, including Table Mountain, the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil, Sydney Opera House and The Eiffel Tower.
Du Plessis said so far both the City of Cape Town and Johannesburg had pledged their support.

Cape Town mayor Helen Zille said it was hoped that Earth Hour 2009 would send a message to the world’s most powerful nations that a better deal on climate change was needed once the Kyoto Protocol commitment period ended in 2012.

Prema Naidoo, City of Johannesburg mayoral committee member on the environment, said Johannesburg was taking the climate change threat seriously and had embarked on a number of initiatives to reduce the city’s carbon emissions.

Tags: earthhour climatechange

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