A combo image shows India Gate war memorial before and after during Earth Hour. AFP
Cities around the world were turning off their lights Saturday for Earth Hour, with this year's event highlighting the link between the destruction of nature and increasing outbreaks of diseases like Covid-19.
Starting off the event, at 8:30 pm the skylines of Asian metropolises from Singapore to Hong Kong went dark, as did landmarks including Sydney Opera House.
The annual event calls for action on climate change and the environment, and this year, organisers said they want to highlight the link between the destruction of the natural world and the increasing incidence of diseases -- such as Covid-19 -- making the leap from animals to humans.
Experts believe human activity such as widespread deforestation, destruction of animals' habitats and climate change are spurring this increase, and warn more pandemics could occur if nothing is done.
"Whether it is a decline in pollinators, fewer fish in the ocean and rivers, disappearing forests or the wider loss of biodiversity, the evidence is mounting that nature is in free fall," said Marco Lambertini, director general of the WWF, which organises Earth Hour.
"And this is because of the way we live our lives and run our economies.
"Protecting nature is our moral responsibility but losing it also increases our vulnerability to pandemics, accelerates climate change, and threatens our food security."
In Singapore, people at the waterfront watched as skyscrapers went dark and in a nearby park, Gardens by the Bay, a group of futuristic-looking tree sculptures had their lights turned off.
Earth Hour is about "more than just saving energy, it's more like remembering our impact on the environment," Ian Tan, 18, told AFP at the park.
But he was not convinced the event, which has been running since 2007, made much of a difference.
"One hour is not enough for us to remember that climate change is actually a problem -- I don't really see (Earth Hour) as very significant," he said.
In Hong Kong, people at viewing points above the city watched as lights were dimmed on hordes of closely packed skyscrapers, while in the South Korean capital Seoul, the historic Namdaemun gate went dark.
In Thailand, Bangkok's ultra-popular CentralWorld mall counted down to 8:30 pm before its exterior glass displays went dark for an hour -- though inside, the shopping centre appeared to operate as usual.
Other landmarks that were due to switch off the lights to mark Earth Hour include the Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum in Rome and the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, according to organisers.
The world has just observed the annual ecological awareness drive to conserve energy and natural resources to save the planet. But this time the campaign had an added thrust, owing to the coronavirus. From Singapore to Buenos Aires, cities
The protests were organised by the campaign group Extinction Rebellion, which was established last year in Britain by academics and has become one of the world's fastest-growing environmental movements.
The volunteers turned out for World Cleanup Day — an initiative that has got millions into the streets and cleaning up litter across the globe since it began just over a decade ago.
The action of groups like the Stansted 15 have shown how effective solidarity with front line groups can change lives. Many of the people due to be forced onto the charter deportation flight that I stopped with 14 others in March 2017 were hours away from being sent to places where their lives were in danger.
The Coromandel Express, which runs from Kolkata to Chennai, derailed and fell on the opposite track, with many people still trapped, the reports said.
Sheikh Mohammed added in a tweet on Twitter: "We found its executive director at the service counters, receiving customers, speeding up procedures, and contributing to clearing transactions. The secret shopper assured us that providing the service did not exceed five minutes."
The first lady arrived in Cairo from Amman, where she attended the wedding of Crown Prince Hussein. She is travelling to Morocco on Saturday before heading to Portugal, the final stop of her tour, on Monday.