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Tel Aviv kicks off Earth Hour

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Tel Aviv kicked off Earth Hour, a global environmental initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Mediterranean city turned off its lights at 8 P.M. on Thursday night, making it the first in the world to do so as part of Earth Hour. The rest of the 35 nations participating in the initiative will turn off their lights at 8 P.M. local time on Saturday night. Because of Shabbat, Tel Aviv decided to bring Earth Hour forward.

Earth Hour began in Sydney, Australia, last year as an initiative of the World Wildlife Fund, the largest independent conservation movement in the world. This year it has spread to 370 cities, towns and councils worldwide.

Israeli President Shimon Peres and Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai officially opened Earth Hour atop one of the roofs of Tel Aviv’s Azrieli towers, where the lights were turned off.

“Israel should be a leader in the global environmental campaign,” Peres said. “It is the mission of every Israeli citizen to ensure the future of the generations to come.”

At Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square, a group of cyclists powered the electricity needed for a concert where tens of thousands celebrated the environmental event.

The Israel Electric Corporation registered a drop in the supply of electricity during Earth Hour, Israeli media reported.

When he agreed earlier this year to turn off Tel Aviv’s lights for Earth Hour, Huldai said in a statement, “We are now at the point in time where we can no longer postpone the issue of climate change. Earth Hour is a beginning, and every city to join can help make a difference by taking responsibility to reduce emissions.”

During the inaugural Earth Hour last year, the lights of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge were switched off. A total of 2.2 million Australians embraced the idea, which reduced energy consumption by about 10 percent.

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