Earth hour will take place tonight at 8.30pm. Hundreds of millions of people will turn off their lights for one hour, on the same night, all across the world in a huge, symbolic show of support. The whole of the UK government, and especially the FCO and its embassies around the world, will also mark the hour in various ways across the world.
Why? The economy of course!
There are huge benefits to gain if we act on climate change – other than, of course, the main one of leaving our planet habitable for our next generation.
Globally, in 2010-11, the green economy (low carbon and environmental goods and services) was valued at around £3.3 trillion, having grown by 3.7% from the previous year despite the economic slowdown. The global market is projected to continue to grow by around 4% for the next four years. HSBC estimates that the low carbon energy market could triple to $2.2 trillion by 2020. Saving the planet therefore makes economic as well as moral sense.
But at the same time, doing nothing costs us as well.
Lord Stern, author of the landmark 2006 study on the economics of climate change, recently said he had underestimated the risks and we were heading towards a 4 or 5 degrees Celsius increase in global temperature by the end of the century.
The implications could be severe.
That is why the UK is working so hard to fight climate change by ensuring we get a new and better Kyoto deal, and that the EU takes more action on climate change. We need the South East Asian economies as well as the European economies to grow to get out of this global economic downturn.
But, to return to the theme of earth hour, shutting down appliances, rather than leaving them on could save us all a lot of money in the long term. For example, if all FCO office equipment in the UK were left on out-of-hours this would waste £560,000 per year and emit 3,400 tonnes of CO2 per year -the equivalent of driving a medium petrol car around the equator 393 times.
As the Swedes say “Många bäckar små, blir till en stor å (Swedish proverb that roughly translates to ”Many small brooks form a big river”).
So do think about turning off the lights and appliances for an hour on Saturday – it does all add up!