AMMAN — Over 1,000 people lit candles and marched down a darkened Rainbow Street on Saturday night for the annual Earth Hour, calling for a nationwide reduction of electricity use.
A countdown set off the celebration at Wild Jordan in Jabal Amman, as lights were turned off in scores of Amman’s main streets, tourist sites, private and public institutions, restaurants, shops and households between 8:30pm and 9:30pm.
Wearing black T-shirts that read “I Will If You Will,” in reference to reducing energy consumption and fighting global warming, the participants held soda cans that were recycled at Feynan Eco-lodge and refashioned into candleholders depicting Jordan’s wildlife species.
A band led the march down Rainbow Street and through the streets of Jabal Amman’s First Circle, playing patriotic songs and turning the Earth Hour march into a joyful celebration.
Yehya Khaled, director general of the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature (RSCN), which organised the event, said Earth Hour was a great way for the public to get involved in protecting nature and supporting environmentally sustainable actions.
“I am inviting you all to work together to make this world a better place, to ensure that our future is bright… If we don’t start changing our ways soon, there will be nothing left for our generation, and the generations to come.” Khaled said on Saturday before the lights were turned off at Wild Jordan.
Layan Serati, one of the participants, said she came with her classmates after she read about the event on Facebook.
“This event is very important, especially for us in Jordan, because we are having less and less rainfall due to climate change, and this is why every individual should act and help,” the 14-year-old noted.
Omar Shoshan, RSCN spokesperson and head of its environmental policies and advocacy section, said the event sought to encourage people to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
“The RSCN is organising Earth Hour for the fourth consecutive year, but this year’s turnout is the largest so far,” he said, highlighting that the aim of the event went beyond turning the lights off for 60 minutes.
Shoshan called on the public to cut down electricity use in their daily life and urged authorities to support renewable energy projects to reduce the Kingdom’s hefty energy bill, which is expected to reach a record JD5 billion this year.
Several shops, cafés and restaurants along the route of the march either dimmed their lights or turned them off and lit candles to show their support.
Hannah Tannous, who owns an antique shop in Jabal Amman, switched off the lights in his small store and placed one candle on the table.
“Climate change is affecting our life and its impact is becoming stronger each year. I believe people should cut down on electricity use, not only for the protection of our environment but also to reduce their bills,” Tannous said as he stood by the door of his shop to watch the march.
Earth Hour began in Sydney, Australia in 2007, when 2.2 million homes and businesses switched off their lights for one hour. The message has grown into a global movement, with more than 50 million people switching off their lights for an hour every year.
Jordan first marked Earth Hour in 2009, when streetlights on several of the capital’s main streets were turned off, in addition to lights at government agencies, archaeological sites, nature reserves, and scores of hotels, restaurants and homes.
From Sydney’s harbour to Egypt’s Tahrir Square and the huge neon billboards that normally light up New York’s Times Square, thousands of cities and businesses opted to go dark across some 150 countries and territories on Saturday, according to news agencies.