The Caribbean has officially joined the global Earth Hour Community. Earth Hour is a symbolic 60 minute period during which participants turn off all non-essential lights to raise awareness about the effects of climate change. It will be celebrated this year on Saturday, 23rd March 2013 from 8:30PM to 9:30PM local time. Earth Hour is an annual event that began in Sydney, Australia in 2007 and has since spread across the entire globe. In 2012, official activities took place in more than 7000 cities and towns across 152 countries and territories. Sadly, the only Caribbean territories listed on the 2012 map of participants were Aruba and Belize.
The Caribbean region is comprised largely of Small Island developing states that are very vulnerable to the effects of climate change including extreme rainfall patterns, sea level rise, increased temperatures and intensified hurricane seasons. Caribbean nations are inherently climate sensitive with their lives and livelihoods inextricably connected to the physical environment. In spite of the solid work by Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs) and the Climate Studies Group at The University of the West Indies among others, the vital information has not been converted to widespread public awareness. Although the action of turning off the lights for one hour is largely symbolic, Earth Hour provides an opportunity for communities across the region to focus on and begin to discuss Climate Change mitigation, adaptation and resilience strategies.
Earth Hour Caribbean was launched in March 2013 and is a project of Hill 60 Bump – A Caribbean Sustainability Network. It acts as a focal point for Earth Hour activities in the region including the sharing of events, activities, tips, news and climate change relevant information. Earth Hour Caribbean will also assist in the coordination of ‘I Will If You Will’ challenges and the appointment a regional ambassador to champion the cause. For 2013, the following Caribbean countries have been added to the official list of Earth Hour participants: Grenada, St. Lucia, Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Barbados, Curacao, Suriname, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Earth Hour Caribbean aims to spread the movement to all Caribbean territories and is seeking interested parties in the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos, Cuba, Haiti, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda among others.
Text by Heather Pinnock