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More than 300 cities in the Green Heart of Europe to join WWF’s Earth Hour

2015-03-26

Photo: WWFBike and run events, light exhibitions, poetry slams and concerts in the dark invite people to use their power to change climate change.

Vienna/Budapest/Belgrade/Sofia/Bucharest/Kiev – This Saturday, 28 March 2015, at 8:30 pm local time, the world’s largest grassroots movement, Earth Hour, will roll across the globe for the ninth time, inviting people to use their power to change climate change. The event is only months before a new global climate deal is expected in Paris.

How will the countries of WWF’s Green Heart of Europe1 initiative celebrate? We invite you to ignite your creative spark and accept our challenge to draw with light in the dark. Paint your Earth Hour message, an earth haiku, a favourite animal, or anything your mind dreams up under slogan “Use your power”.

In Austria and Ukraine, this contest comes with a prize: solar charger for mobile phones or other devices and gift cards.

Worldwide, more than 7,000 towns and cities in more than 160 countries will participate in Earth Hour this year. In The Green Heart of Europe region, the participating towns are more than 300.

In Vienna, Austria, there will be a party with a poetry slam. The celebrations are supported by the Federal President, the Chancellor, ministers and celebrities. Among them is rock band The Makemakes who will sing for Austria at the Eurovision Song Contest, which this year is going to be organized in Vienna as a green contest.

All major cities and landmarks will turn off their lights, as well as businesses like IKEA, Allianz and Canon. In Vienna, the lights will be off at Schönbrunn Palace, Belvedere Palace, the Arsenal Telecommunications Tower and others. Monuments in the country will also go dark: the Golden Roof in Innsbruck, the Schlossberg Clock Tower in Graz, the old town in Mozart’s city of Salzburg among others.

In Bulgaria, people will draw a giant Danube sturgeon fish with light and join a fire show with music in the capital, Sofia. This year, WWF is calling attention to rivers habitats, especially in light of climate change, which causes heavy rains and floods. In 2014, countless dikes in Bulgaria broke, proving they are ineffective in containing overflowing rivers. Scientists predict that the trend will continue to impact mostly Central and Eastern Europe.

This is why, in 2015, WWF Bulgaria is calling on people to use their power and become riverwatchers. They will collect photos of specific river problems like pollution, excess water extraction or ineffective fish passages, and share them online at a special website reki.bg. This will help WWF Bulgaria and its partners take action. Everyone can also learn about the most pressing river problems and sign the river petition.

In Hungary, there will also be a focus on the health of rivers and wetlands. A crowdfunding initiative will help buy water buffalos to support a model of wetland cultivation that fights climate change effects like floods and droughts. It will also use an invasive plant to produce biomass as Photo: WWFfuel for local government buildings. An online game will also teach people how to maintain a healthy river.

Hungarian cities are also going to compete for the title of Earth Hour capital by organizing their own Citygreening Actions. In Budapest, besides citygreening there will be an Earth Hour party. The Mary Popkids will give a free concert while the lights are still on, which will be followed by a party in the dark to the sound of drums and the sight of dancers in LED costumes.

In Romania, this year's Earth Hour events are focused on the idea of sharing your energy with nature. So instead of consuming energy at home, people are invited to generate energy by going for a bike ride, a run, skating or just going for a walk with friends. More than 30 cities, including Timișoara (Earth Hour Capital in 2013) and Satu Mare (Earth Hour Capital in 2014), are participating this year. People can enjoy unplugged concerts, star gazing events, fire juggling demonstrations, kite flying, listen to choirs singing acapella, watch dancers perform and many more.

Also, there will be an Earth Hour running event - Run for the Earth - organized by city councils or local associations. In Bucharest, the main event will take place in the most well-known park, Herastrău with over 7,000 people expected. Earth Hour ambassador Zoli Toth and Limitless coaches will be demonstrating different workouts (the public can join too), followed by a drum & fire show. There will also be a bike trip with the Earth Hour event as the finish line.

In Serbia, there will be an exhibition in the dark in Belgrade illustrating climate change problems. The energy for lighting up the exhibition panels will be generated by visitors themselves who will turn the pedals of a stationary bicycle! The most famous Serbian children choir Kolibri will also be there.

In Ukraine, people will use their power to find solutions to local eco problems using an ecomap – an interactive platform that allows you to post your region’s ecological issues and seek likeminded people to solve them. In Kiev, there will be an acoustic concert featuring young Ukrainian performers, an exhibition called Forest Stories - with spectacular pictures from Ukraine’s woods - and an eco-fair. Also, the lights will go out at famous sites like the Odessa Opera and Ballet Theater, Lutsk castle, the TV Tower on the High Castle in Lviv, the tallest building in Kiev - SEC Gulliver - and others.

1 WWF's The Green Heart of Europe initiative across 12 countries in Central and Eastern Europe aims to save and protect the five natural riches of the region – forests, wilderness, large carnivores, rivers and wetlands, and the Danube sturgeon. http://www.panda.org/greenheartofeurope