50 Prague landmarks will go dark for Earth Hour, and you can join in at home and online

Cities, towns and people across the Czech Republic and the globe will show their commitment to the environment

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 26.03.2021 13:42 (updated on 26.03.2021)

Fifty important Prague landmarks will go dark for an hour from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 27, as part of the global Earth Hour initiative. Individuals can also participate by darkening their homes. The annual event draws attention to the need to protect the climate by taking concrete steps to reduce CO2 emissions.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, much of Earth Hour both in the Czech Republic and globally will take place online. People who plan to turn out their own lights can register on the local event website so organizers can get include them as dots on a map. Logos and banners that can be shared virtually are also available, and participants can choose from a checklist what concrete steps they are willing to take to reduce their carbon footprint.

People around the world are encouraged to follow local pandemic restrictions. In the Czech Republic, this includes a curfew at 9 p.m. and a ban on on-essential trips, so seeing the darkened buildings, especially after 9 p.m., should mainly be done on social media.

The global campaign

Earth Hour is overseen by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). The event’s global website says the organizers will be releasing a new video on March 27, and they hope to have it shared widely by participants over social media or by direct messages.

“Whether you share it with one person, 10 people, or a hundred – remember, it all adds up! Use the hashtag #EarthHour when you can!” they say. People can also share pictures using hashtags on social media and upload photos the Earth Hour website.

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The goal is to show world leaders, who will be setting the environmental agenda for decades to come, that the public still considers the environment to be an important issue even during the pandemic.

“Whether it is a decline in pollinators, fewer fish in the ocean and rivers, disappearing forests, or the wider loss of biodiversity, the evidence is mounting that nature is in free fall. And this is because of the way we live our lives and run our economies. Protecting nature is our moral responsibility but losing it also increases our vulnerability to pandemics, accelerates climate change, and threatens our food security,” Marco Lambertini, director general of WWF International, said in a press release.

“We must stop taking nature for granted, respect its intrinsic value, and – importantly – value the crucial services it provides to our health, well-being and economy. We need to unite and take urgent action now to set nature on the path to recovery and secure a nature-positive world, while supporting climate action. By acting for nature, we can all create a healthier, fairer and more sustainable world,” he added.

Commitments from Prague City Hall

Landmarks in Prague that will go dark include Charles Bridge, the National Theatre, the Old Town Hall, the Petřín Lookout Tower, the Estates Theater, Strahov Monastery, the Vítkov Memorial, and a number of Prague churches. In total, there will be about 50 Prague monuments and places. A list can be found on the City Hall website.

According to the calculations by the municipal company Technologie hl. m. Prahy (THMP), the shutdown of public lighting will save up to 15,000 kWh, meaning means the city will produces 6.5 tons fewer CO 2 emissions.

“I see the mass switch-off of lights across the Earth as an important symbolic gesture to show that we are aware of the threat of climate change and the need for environmentally responsible behavior. Clean water, fresh air and healthy food are not a matter of course and each of us should be aware of this,” Prague City Councilor Jan Chabr, responsible for property management, said.

Two years ago the city approved a climate commitment to reduce CO2 emissions and the measures needed to meet them. “One of them is the project of synergistic renewal of the cable network of Prague public lighting and cables of the distribution network, which envisages the creation of up to 3,000 charging points for e-mobility on public lighting poles,” he added.

As in the previous year, the Technologie hl. m. Prahy (THMP) will ensure the darkening of selected Prague monuments. “While last year we gradually put out 10 monuments according to the century of their origin to draw attention to the importance of the environment in our history, this year, at half past eight, all selected objects will be immersed in darkness at once and five times more than in the previous year," THMP board chairman Tomáš Jílek said.

In total, the event will touch 1,900 special lighting fixtures that illuminate Prague's sights. “At THMP, we are fully aware of our level of responsibility for a favorable environment. That is why we consider all aspects of healthy lighting, we drive ecological cars and, last but not least, we handle waste responsibly in our work,” he added.

Prague’s current leadership says it takes environmental issues very seriously. “Not only do we hear these calls, we also listen to them. We are currently finalizing the capital’s Climate Plan, which contais over 60 concrete measures that will help us reduce the city's carbon footprint by 45 percent by 2030 compared to 2010,” Prague Deputy Mayor Petr Hlubuček, responsible for the environment, said.

The main measures include development of renewable energy sources, especially in buildings, and the transition to low-emission transport, including electric vehicles. “The first projects of community renewable sources should be implemented already this year and we expect more massive investments from 2022,” he added.

Earth Hour has been held by the WWF since 2007, when the lighting of the Sydney Opera House in Australia was turned off. Since 2010, the Czech Republic first joined the initiative in 2010. Last year, 124 Czech municipalities and cities took part, including Prague.

The Czech website for Earth hour is here and the global site is here.