Lights Out London

London has celebrated its “switch off” campaign yesterday. Like the Sydney Earth Hour, the idea was to create awareness of the climate change issue.

Houses of Parliament

The Houses of Parliament after the big switch-off (Courtesy: BBC)

Lights across the city were switched off for an hour on Thursday night to encourage London’s three million households to conserve energy.

The Lights Out London campaign aimed to have all non-essential lighting turned off between 2100 and 2200 BST. It followed similar campaigns in cities including Sydney, Paris and Rome.

At the time of Sydney’s Earth Hour I wrote that “It is important that the debate is concentrated on doing more important things than turning lights off. We should work towards cleaner base load energy, creating “cradle to cradle” industrial processes, building waste management systems and changing the culture in Australia. These are tougher and more important things to do.”

What kind of awareness does this lights off symbolism create? Energy is the problem, switching off is the solution, sacrificing is the way to go?

Josie Appleton on Spiked writes about the role of energy in the world and why this act amounts to nothing in the wider scheme of things.

The practical effect of the event will be negligible – perhaps a 10 per cent reduction, for an hour, for one city, for one night.

…Lights Out London is a symbolic gesture from a high-speed culture that is deeply uncomfortable with itself. We have so much at the flick of a switch, yet we are uneasy about the idea of using energy, and a light bulb is becoming a symbol of angst rather than a bright idea. We in some respects seem to find darkness more meaningful than light, inaction more meaningful than action.

What kind of awareness do we need to create? We need to change our industrial system, change our buying pattern, create better technology for energy generation, and increase energy efficiency. And yes, change our habits.

By switching off the city lights for a hour it can actually create the wrong impression.

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4 thoughts on “Lights Out London

  1. Hi Suhit,

    I think ‘Lights off’ is a good gesture, to show the people of the city and the remaining world, how important is conserving energy is?

    You were talking about the bigger picture, yes i agree with you. But, to bring awareness among the citizens, i don’t hesitate to say that this is a good move.

    Jag

  2. Jag:

    I understand that there are people at both ends of the spectrum in this case. however, considering the effort, marketing and co-ordination required to pull this off; it would be much better to actually invest that time and energy on something which has more impact.

    Considering the last one year in the environmental area; I guess there has been a lot of awareness of this issue among everybody.

    Also, there are many other issues facing us in the environment area which are important including waste reduction, other pollutants, biodiversity loss etc which needs to be tackled. Too much of effort is being concentrated on only one issue – climate change.

    Cheers,
    Suhit

  3. Pingback: Earth Hour 2008 « World is Green

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