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Swedes turn off the lights for the environment

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10:26 CEST+02:00
Sweden was one of a record 131 countries which turned off the lights for an hour on Saturday night to mark Earth Hour in a manifestation for the global environment.

Between 8.30 to 9.30pm on Saturday evening local time the clocks ticked to candle light in many homes across the country as a reminder to protect the environment.

Earth Hour is an initiative which began in Australia in 2007 and has since spread around the globe with Sweden joining up in 2009. This year, a record 131 countries reported that they joined the cause.

While Earth Hour has the obvious effect of saving electricity, the event is not intended as an energy conservation campaign.

"No, it's a visual manifestation, a signal to politicians to take climate issues seriously," said Victoria Olausson, project manager for Earth Hour in Sweden.

It is not only private homes that are plunged into near darkness, with municipalities, businesses, schools and other institutions all following suit and turning off the lights to a greater or lesser extent in a show of support.

"Furthermore there are a hundred or so activities around the country. In Vaxjö they serve a 'climate soup', in Karlstad Cathedral they performed a 'Requiem for a light bulb' and stargazing was organized in several places," Olausson said.

Victoria Olausson is convinced that the campaign gets people involved in the cause.

"Earth Hour has really spread to the broad base of the population, not just to the already initiated and the save the environment crowd. It is something that people can talk about and relate to," she said.

While Sweden joined up in full to Earth Hour in 2009, King Carl XVI Gustaf showed the way back in March 2008 when ordered the royal palaces in Stockholm to turn off the lights in aid of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and to highlight energy use and climate change.

Ulriksdal Palace and the King's home Drottningholm Palace joined Stockholm Royal Palace in the centre of the city in cutting the lights for an hour.

The King is honorary chair of the WWF in Sweden.

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