KARACHI - Like around the world, the Earth Hour was marked on Saturday across the country with the aim to raise money for local environmental projects. The event was marked in more than 150 countries.Earth Hour is the world’s largest grassroots movement to combat climate change which was started in 2007 at Sydney. It has grown to become a global movement that now involves every continent across the globe. Earth Hour invites people everywhere to voluntarily switch off all unnecessary lights for one hour as a symbolic act to show their commitment to save the planet.In Karachi, the Sindh government in partnership with the WWF-Pakistan observed Earth Hour at Sindh Assembly. In the opening ceremony, Minister for Environment Dr Sikandar Mandhro presented a resolution in Sindh Assembly to observe Earth Hour which was unanimously passed by the assembly. The provincial Environment Protection Agency has been the principle department leading this initiative over the last few years. Provincial Assembly Additional Secretary M H Hassan Shah said that it was a great achievement to see such gathering for positive initiatives. In this way, Pakistan joined 7000 cities and more than 156 countries across the world with several events happening in Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore, Quetta, Peshawar, Faisalabad, Multan, Sheikhupura and other cities to pledge to Pakistan’s environment and natural treasures. During Earth Hour between 8:30pm - 9:30pm unnecessary lights were switched off at 134 landmarks across Pakistan. Celebrities including world’s popular cricket star Shoaib Akhtar, stunning model and actress Humaima Malik; Shehreyar Munawar Siddiqui, activist Faryal Ali Gohar; Ahsan Khan; Sarmad Sultan Khosat and singer Zoe Viccaji participated.WWF-Pakistan CEO Ali Hassan Habib said that environmental issue is the concern of everyone because of its grave economic, healthcare, developmental and human rights implications. He asserted, ‘Earth Hour is a call for all to consider the environment as something we all need to preserve. It is not just about turning extra lights off. It’s about changing lifestyles and consumption patterns to be more aware about how we use our planet’s resources.’Senior Director Corporate Relations and Operations Anwar Nasim added, ‘WWF-Pakistan has been engaging the corporate sector, policy makers, business community members, educational institutions on all levels to participate Earth Hour activities since 2011. Our message is creating environmental reforms and implementing environmental laws which are as important as human rights laws’. Pakistan is struggling with an energy shortfall that causes power outages regularly. For this reason, the WWF promotes the spirit of Earth Hour which goes beyond just turning off lights for one hour. It is focused on engaging people in conserving energy resources that we have.WWF Regional Director Rab Nawaz said people need to realise that climate change is a real challenge. Pakistan is one of the top 10 countries which are vulnerable to climate change impacts. Super floods in 2010 and massive rainfalls in consecutive years have caused heavy damage to environment, economy and human beings.Asad Shahbaz said that the theme of this year’s Earth Hour is ‘Use Your Power’. He said that lights would be switched off for one hour at all district headquarters and provincial land marks including Governor House, Sindh Assembly, High Court, Marriot Hotel, PC hotel, Dawood centre, Shaheen omplex and others. The main event in Lahore was held at Qarshi University, with hundreds in attendance. Pakistan joined more than 7000 cities and 156 countries around the world in celebrating Earth Hour. Several simultaneous events to mark the largest environmental movement happened in Karachi, Islamabad, Quetta, Peshawar, Faisalabad, Multan, Sheikhupura, Sukkur, Kahuta, Murree, Rahim Yar Khan and other cities to pledge to conserve Pakistan’s environment and natural treasures. Significant events in the spirit of Earth Hour were celebrated at Punjab Assembly, National Assembly and Sindh Assembly to create awareness of environmental issues that our country faces today, such as energy shortfall and food and water security, which are creating economic and health disasters for us. Celebrity Earth Hour ambassadors including Feryal Ali Gauhar, Zoe Viccaji, Mehreen Raheel, Nadia Jameel, Ali Tahir, Rehan Butt, Omair Rana, Sarmad Sultan Khoosat, and Shoaib Akhter pledged to be more environmentally conscious and lead by example. The event at Qarshi University also included talent show by university and school students, pledge signing and candle lighting activities. Hundreds of students and educationists from across the country also pledged to save the planet by saving natural resources, aiming to help the country in overcoming the energy crisis. Director General and CEO of WWF – Pakistan, Ali Hassan Habib, said that environmental issues are everyone’s concern now because of their grave economic, healthcare, developmental and human rights implications. He stated, “Earth Hour is a rallying call for all to consider the environment as something we all need to preserve. It is not just about turning extra lights off. It’s about changing lifestyles and consumption patterns, to be more aware about how we use our planet’s finite resources.” Anwar Nasim, Senior Director Corporate Relations and Operations, added, “WWF-Pakistan has been engaging the corporate sector, policy makers, the business community, educational institutions on all levels and even political community for Earth Hour activities since 2011. Our message and work is using our resources efficiently, creating environmental reforms and implementing environmental laws, which are as important as human rights laws.”This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 30-Mar-2014 here.