Thursday, 26 March 2009

Earth Hour 2009

Motion debated:

That the Parliament supports WWF's Earth Hour 2009, which aims to encourage millions of people worldwide and across Scotland to switch off their lights for an hour at 8.30 pm on Saturday 28 March 2009, to send a powerful global message that we care enough about climate change to take action and demonstrate widespread public support for an equitable, binding and scientifically credible global deal on climate change and, in Scotland, strong Scottish climate change legislation; considers that 2009 is a critical year for action on climate change with a new global deal to be agreed in Copenhagen in December; acknowledges the opportunity for Scotland to take a global lead with the most progressive legislation in the world through a strong Climate Change (Scotland) Bill; recognises that the global deal must address the historical responsibility of the United Kingdom and other developed countries as major contributors to climate change; commends local government in Edinburgh alongside the many individuals who are early signatories to support WWF's Earth Hour in Scotland, and further considers that the Scottish and UK governments are in an ideal position to take a proactive, progressive and leading role throughout the 2009 negotiations.

Rob Gibson (Highlands and Islands) (SNP): I congratulate Shirley-Anne Somerville on bringing the debate to the chamber. I fully support the protest of switching off the lights for earth hour in 2009, and for every year until we make it happen for real by turning the economy round to become a carbon-saving economy…...

Earth hour will be difficult to illustrate—we will really only be able to tell that there is a shroud of darkness by looking at the earth from outer space. The famous photographs that show where the earth is lit up at night ought to show far less of that if earth hour succeeds. I hope that we can get some images to show how successful it is as we go along.

Earth hour, on Saturday night at 8.30 pm, will bring other opportunities. Some people will not necessarily be watching the football—indeed, there might be some surprise candlelit dinners for two, or for many more. That would be a good thing to do—and I did not mention the idea of candlelight for nothing. In the past, candles were made from beeswax, and part of the biodiversity of the planet involves ensuring that there are bees left to make that wax in the future.

In celebrating our earth hour, it might be a good idea for us to ensure that we remember how those things are all connected—perhaps a candlelit dinner would be a good celebration for earth hour this year.

The Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change (Stewart Stevenson): I, too, thank Shirley-Anne Somerville for bringing the matter to the Parliament for debate.

On behalf of the Government, I am pleased to support WWF's earth hour 2009, as countries throughout the world will do. On 28 March, we will turn off non-essential lights in all 44 of our core buildings, as indeed will the Parliament. Earth hour raises awareness of sustainability and climate change globally and throughout Scotland…..

I am delighted that Rob Gibson's partner Eleanor is in for a surprise dinner on Saturday night. I, too, think that protecting bees is important if only because I have a rather sticky complaint in the back of my throat. Some royal jelly—which was, of course, the Queen mum's favourite remedy for many problems—is probably called for.

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