25 February 2008
Mr. Tony Lowes,
Friends of the Irish Environment,
Many thanks for your correspondence about Earth Hour. As you are aware, I have set addressing climate change as my number one priority for this Government and I applaud all initiatives that draw attention to the causes and implications of climate change for Ireland and the wider world. To that end, this government has commissioned a multi million euro climate change communications and public awareness campaign that will drive this message amongst the public generally. It will also engage with specific sectors and will work in partnership with them to address the emissions for which they are responsible.
I understand that a number of local authorities have engaged in supporting Earth Hour. I have forwarded a copy of your correspondence to my colleague Minister Noel Ahern, T.D. who has responsibility for the OPW asking him to support the local authorities' efforts by including appropriate State properties in Earth Hour.
I have also written to a number of Bodies under the aegis of the Department asking them to consider supporting this initiative.
I wish you well with this initiative and I look forward to working with Friends of the Irish Environment in delivering real change to Ireland's approach to climate change.
John Gormley, T.D.,
Minister for the Environment, Heritage & Local Government.
Those supporting Earth Hour in Ireland - especially the astronomers - had hoped to set the time here at 9 PM rather than 8 PM. Unfortunately the ‘brand image' is so globally pervasive that we have had to accept the internationally agreed time - and to try next year to have the event moved entirely to 9 PM to allow for countries at the more northern latitudes to experience Earth Hour in full darkness.
In fact, environmentalists would assist both the Irish Electricity Supply Board and the environment by switching off all lights for as many hours as possible that evening.
Statement by Joanna Tuffy TD
Spokesperson on Environment and Heritage
Deputy Joanna Tuffy has welcomed the decision by Dublin City Council to pass a motion tabled by Labour's Lord Mayor of Dublin Councillor Paddy Burke to take the lead and support Earth Hour on March 29th. (More details on Labour.ie)
"Earth Hour will see Irish towns and cities combining with towns and cities from all over the world to reduce energy use by switching off non-essential lights for an hour on March 29th between 9 and 10pm. Following on from Dublin City Council's decision to support the Lord Mayor's motion other Labour councillors will also be tabling motions asking their council's to take part in Earth Hour including South Dublin County Council, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and Cork City Council.
"I am delighted for the support for Earth Hour so far and I will be encouraging members of the business community, institutions, families and individuals to join in and switch off their lights during that hour. Earth Hour brings home that from an individual to Government and everyone in between we have a shared responsibility to conserve energy and help tackle climate change.
"Last year in Sydney 2.2 million people participated in Earth Hour by switching off their lights and their efforts resulted in a 10 per cent drop in energy usage. This year the event is going global with cities such as Chicago, Copenhagen and Dublin all taking part."
"Agenda Item 26
MEETING OF DUN LAOGHAIRE RATHDOWN COUNTY COUNCIL
11 FEBRUARY 2008
EARTH HOUR 2008
Motion: Councillor C. Smyth
"That this Council recognizes the need for action on global warming and the need to conserve energy, reduce carbon emissions and also the need to reduce light pollution of our night skies.
That Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Council will support Earth Hour 2008
(www.earthhour.org) by turning off all non-essential lights controlled by the Council from 9 to 10 PM on 29 March 2008 to support a collective world-wide effort to show the difference that can be made by this initiative and to raise public awareness of the need to use less energy.
Requests that the County Manager to take all possible steps to implement the turning off of all non essential lights in its control as part of Earth Hour 2008 Will write to the local Chamber of Commerce and business community to lend their support to this initiative.
And that the County Manager will make a statement on the matter."
The Council's public lighting network is supplied by electricity through an overhead ESB Network and through an underground cable network. In both cases, the electricity is present 24 hours per day. Each public lighting lantern has its own individual photoelectric cell that is activated at dusk. Through activation of internal contacts, the electrical paths to the lighting lamps are completed and the light comes on.
It is not possible to disconnect the electricity particularly with respect to the overhead network. In this case, the network is an ESB distribution system that supplies households, offices, etc. and public lighting is just an adjunct. The underground network is linked through minipillars to the ESB system. To disconnect the supply would require the opening of every public lighting minipillar and removal of the fuses etc. As this is contrary to public safety, compromises public security with political, social, legal, Garda consequences, is electrically unsound and impractical and financially prohibitive.
The Council is well aware of the need to control energy usage and costs in Public Lighting. This is done through the usage of low wattage, high light output lanterns that are available from Manufacturers. The latter are sensitive to political demands. Through their research laboratories new lighting products are brought to market. Presently, compact fluorescent lamps and low wattage metal halide lanterns are newly available. The Council has purchased some hundreds of these for installation in areas with aged equipment. It is in this manner that energy usage and costs, light pollution through internal lantern optics, glare (both discomfort and disability) to the motorist and cyclist and carbon footprint etc. are kept within acceptable international standards and levels.
In relation to the Council Buildings
"The site advocates that "without" violating their Health & Safety protocols or comprising their night time security, participating organisations should switch off as much of their lighting (and other electrical loads) as possible to reduce their carbon footprint."
The Council is subscribing to this practice.
Contact: Brendan Elliott, Senior Executive Engineer, Transportation Department
Rita Flynn, Senior Executive Officer, Corporate Services"
DUBLIN TO LEAD IRISH CITIES IN EARTH HOUR 2008
The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Councillor Paddy Bourke, has welcomed the council's endorsement of his motion seeking to support Earth Hour 2008.
Lord Mayor Burke said: "Earth Hour is an international campaign and Dublin is one of the latest cities to get behind this important event where on March 29th all non-essential lights will be switched off for an hour.
"This campaign is important and everyone from citizens up to Government has a duty to do what they can against global warming. It is up to us all to do what we can to reduce our CO2 emissions. Through one simple action, turning off our lights for an hour, we can deliver a powerful message about the need for action.
"I am thrilled that as Dublin Lord Mayor I will be leading our capital city in its participation in this international event. It was estimated during the Sydney Earth Hour last night demand for electricity dropped by 10 per cent. It would be fantastic if we could do the same in Dublin.
I would urge businesses and homes to join in and take part in the campaign."
FIE is assisting in coordinating Earth Hour here in Ireland. Please contact us if you would like to be put in touch with others who are working on Earth Hour 2008.
EARTH HOUR IRELAND 2008Environmental groups around the world are supporting an hour long demonstration of global solidarity about climate change and the need for conservation.
Created to take a stand against the greatest threat our planet has ever faced, Earth Hour uses the simple action of turning off the lights for one hour to deliver a powerful message about the need for action on global warming.
Using the slogan ‘See The Difference You Can Make', householders, business, and the government are to be asked to turn off non-essential lights for one hour at 8 pm on March 29.
The idea was first used last year by the World Wildlife Fund in Sydney, Australia, where the world famous opera house and bridge were dramatically darkened for one hour. More than 2 million people participated and a 10% reduction in power use was recorded - the equivalent of taking almost 50,000 cars off the road for the same time.
Friends of the Irish Environment, who are supporting Earth Hour in Ireland, have welcomed Dublin City Council as the first to formally pledge support for the event here in Ireland.
The motion, passed during Lord Mayor's Business on Monday night, stated
‘That this Council recognizes the need for action on global warming and the need to conserve energy, reduce carbon emissions and also the need to reduce light pollution of our night skies.'
Similar motions have been tabled by the labour party for Clare, Cork, and Galway this coming Monday.
The campaign is also backed by the Irish Light Pollution Awareness Campaign.
A spokesman for FIE said that ‘While its encouraging to see local authorities reacting positively to the idea, we are anxious that the business community around Ireland will also support this idea - and that the ordinary person has the opportunity to help.'
The spokesman said that there was ‘a widespread belief that energy conservation is just a temporary phenomena and that alternative sources of power will enable us to continue just as we are. In fact, the whole of society is facing an unprecedented change in the world we live in. The longer we wait, the harder its going to be.'
‘Earth Hour is a wake up call.'
Tony Lowes, Director, Friends of the Irish Environment
Tel: +353 27 73131 or 087 2176316
Andy Ridley, Executive Director, Earth Hour, WWF
Tel: +61 2 8202 1237
The wording of the motion passed by Dublin City Council is is:
That this Council recognizes the need for action on global warming and the need to conserve energy, reduce carbon emissions and also the need to reduce light pollution of our night skies.
That Dublin City Council will support Earth Hour 2008 (www.earthhour.org) by turning off all non-essential lights controlled by the Council from 9 to 10 PM on 29 March 2008 to support a collective world-wide effort to show the difference that can be made by this initiative and to raise public awareness of the need to use less energy.
Requests that the City/County Manager/Town Clerk to take all possible steps to implement the turning off of all non essential lights in its control as part of Earth Hour 2008
Will write to the local Chamber of Commerce and business community to lend their support to this initiative.
And that the City/County Manager/Town Clerk will make a statement on the matter.