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From Sydney to Paris, landmarks go dark for 10th Earth Hour

COMBINATION PHOTO - This combination photo shows the Eiffel Tower before and after its lights were turned off to mark Earth Hour in Paris, France, Saturday, March 19, 2016. Cities around the world were turning out the lights Saturday evening to mark the 10th annual Earth Hour, a global movement dedicated to protecting the planet and highlighting the effects of climate change. (AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)

This combination photo shows the Eiffel Tower before and after its lights were turned off to mark Earth Hour in Paris, France, Saturday, March 19, 2016. Cities around the world were turning out the lights Saturday evening to mark the 10th annual Earth Hour, a global movement dedicated to protecting the planet and highlighting the effects of climate change. AP

SYDNEY, Australia — From Sydney Opera House to the Eiffel tower in Paris and the Kremlin in Moscow, landmarks across the globe dimmed their lights on Saturday night for the 10th edition of the Earth Hour campaign calling for action on climate change.

Millions of people from 178 countries and territories were expected to take part in WWF’s Earth Hour this year, organizers said, with monuments and buildings such as Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate and the Empire State Building plunging into darkness for 60 minutes from 8:30 pm local time.

The annual event kicked off in Sydney, where the Earth Hour idea originated in 2007.

READ: ‘Pedal power’ lights up LED map of PH during Earth Hour switch-off event | Earth Hour rekindles SM’s climate change advocacy

“We just saw the Sydney Harbor Bridge switch its lights off… and buildings around as well,” Earth Hour’s Australia manager Sam Webb told AFP from The Rocks area.

Earth Hour’s global executive director Siddarth Das said organizers were excited about how much the movement had grown since it began nine years ago.

“From one city it has now grown to over 178 countries and territories and over 7,000 cities, so we couldn’t be happier about how millions of people across the world are coming together for climate action,” he told AFP via telephone from Singapore ahead of the lights out.

Over 150 buildings in Singapore dimmed their lights, while Taipei’s 101 gradually turned lights off for one hour and the city’s four historical gates and bridges also went dark.

This combo photo shows the Taipei 101 skyscraper with its lights on and off to mark Earth Hour in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, March 19, 2016. Cities around Asia were turning out the lights Saturday evening to mark the 10th annual Earth Hour, a global movement dedicated to protecting the planet and highlighting the effects of climate change. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

This combo photo shows the Taipei 101 skyscraper with its lights on and off to mark Earth Hour in Taipei, Taiwan, Saturday, March 19, 2016. AP

The lights also dimmed across Hong Kong’s usually glittering skyline, although online commentators pointed out that China’s People’s Liberation Army garrison headquarters on the harbour front kept the lights blazing.

“Imagine being the manager of the only building in a major metropolis to forget,” said one Twitter post alongside a picture of the PLA building lit up against a darkened skyline.

After Asia, Earth Hour shifted to Europe where St Peter’s Basilica, Rome’s Trevi fountain and the Parthenon temple in Athens were among a slew of iconic sites to go off-grid.

In this two-picture combo, the Trevi fountain is seen at left with its light on, and at right with its lights off, on the occasion of the 10th annual Earth Hour, in Rome, Saturday, March 19, 2016. In several Italian cities officials switched off lights normally illuminating major monuments in a global movement dedicated to protecting the planet and highlighting the effects of climate change. (Giorgio Onorati/ANSA via AP) ITALY OUT

In this two-picture combo, the Trevi fountain is seen at left with its light on, and at right with its lights off, on the occasion of the 10th annual Earth Hour, in Rome, Saturday, March 19, 2016.  AP

In London, the lights were shut off at the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace and Harrods department store.

In Paris, the Eiffel Tower was plunged into darkness, as was the Kremlin in Moscow.

Earth Hour’s Das said momentum towards climate action was building in the wake of the global climate talks in Paris last year.

The so-called Paris Agreement sets the goal of limiting global warming to “well below” two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-industrial levels, with a more ambitious target of 1.5 C if possible.

COMBINATION PHOTO - This combination photo shows the Hyllie water tower lit, left, and with the lights turned off to mark Earth Hour in Malmo, Sweden, Saturday, March 19, 2016. Cities around the world were turning out the lights Saturday evening to mark the 10th annual Earth Hour, a global movement dedicated to protecting the planet and highlighting the effects of climate change. (Johan Nilsson/TT News Agency via AP) SWEDEN OUT

This combination photo shows the Hyllie water tower lit, left, and with the lights turned off to mark Earth Hour in Malmo, Sweden, Saturday, March 19, 2016.  AP

Das said people were experiencing the impact of climate change more now than when Earth Hour began, adding that “climate change has now become a more personal topic”.

“I feel that there’s a renewed vigor among individuals and governments to come together for strong climate action and to fight climate change,” he said.

Das said Earth Hour organizers did not collect global statistics on the energy conserved during the 60-minute blackout, and that the event has always had symbolic intent, saying it was more a moment of global solidarity about a global problem.

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