LAHORE - WWF-Pakistan and the Punjab Government signed a pledge at a ceremony at the Punjab Assembly yesterday to support action on climate change and take steps towards a low-carbon, sustainable future.

Minister for Education, Sports and Tourism Rana Mashood Ahmed Khan and Managing Director (MD) Tourism AhmerYar Malik, pledged to join WWF’s international Earth Hour campaign to show they care about the future of planet, ahead of the global lights-out event, due to take place on Saturday March 19 from 8:30pm to 9:30pm.

Speaker Punjab Assembly Rana Muhammad Iqbal Khan pledged to put to an end the usage of plastic bags, “That’s why this Earth Hour I’m showing I care about the future of our country by making a special pledge for a low-carbon future,” he said.

Rana Mashood Ahmed Khan pledged to plant more trees and to observe Earth Hour in its true spirit. He appealed to people at large to switch off lights voluntarily as a responsible citizen.

AhmerYar Malik said that the department has created an Eco Tourism Hub from KallarKahar to Soan Valley. “The picturesque Soan Valley in Khushab district attracts a lot of tourists to its beautiful lakes, waterfalls, forests, natural springs, hills, the endangered Punjab urial, migratory birds in winters and preserved architectural sites,” he said. “I pledge to promote eco-tourism further this year,” he added.

Every year Earth Hour inspires millions of people around the world to come together and switch off their lights for one hour in a symbolic act to show they care about the planet. Last year a record-breaking 172 countries and some of the world’s most Iconic buildings switched off their lights. This year the campaign’s theme is change climate change.

Director General WWF-Pakistan Hammad Naqi Khan said, “We are thrilled that members of the provincial assembly are supporting Earth Hour this year and hope that they will inspire others to get involved.”

The Earth Hour movement has grown from a symbolic lights-off event in Sydney, Australia in 2007 to the world’s largest voluntary campaign, mobilising people in all seven continents. Initiated by WWF-Australia in order to sensitise people on the issue of climate change, Earth Hour was first organised on March 31, 2007 in Sydney at 7:30 pm, local time.

The year 2016 marks the tenth lights out event since Earth Hour’s debut. In the past nine years, WWF and Earth Hour teams around the world have harnessed the power of the movement to raise support and funds for access to renewable energy, protection of wildlife and their habitats, building sustainable livelihoods and driving climate-friendly legislation and policy.

The impacts of climate change are already being felt worldwide. Last year was the hottest year on record. It was also the year countries came together to work against climate change at the historic summit in Paris. Nineteen of the 20 hottest years on record occurred in the past two decades. Pakistanis is one of the top ten countries most affected by climate change, although contributing very little to global carbon emissions. It is already being affected by deeper, more persistent droughts, pounded by more severe weather and floods, inundated by bigger storm surges.