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People can do something positive for the planet, Earth Hour co-founder says

Old Trafford at night Credit: Mike Egerton/EMPICS Sport

The world has the chance to do something positive for the planet even during this current crisis, a co-founder of the Earth Hour environmental movement has said.

Andy Ridley, who was one of the driving forces behind Earth Hour when it began in Sydney, Australia, in 2007, was speaking as households and landmarks across the globe are being asked to switch off their lights to mark this year's event.

Famous buildings and structures, including Blackpool Tower and Old Trafford in Manchester, will go dark between 8.30pm and 9.30pm, as part of the international event organised by WWF to urge action to save the planet.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the conservation charity said it is not organising public gatherings - instead, supporters are encouraged to join in with online events.

Mr Ridley, speaking in an interview with Steven Day, the co-founder of renewable energy provider Pure Planet, said that "the one thing we should be taking out of this is we have the capacity to act if we decide we are going to".

He added that there is a "power of action when you get a mass engagement".

Mr Ridley also said that the world's current battle with coronavirus "does clearly show the capacity for us to deal with things" and he advised anyone who may no longer be able to get outside that "the biggest thing" is to "remember how good it is to be out and how worth it that is."

He also said in the interview: "Greta (Thunberg, the teenage environmental campaigner) was right when she said if governments decide to do something then we can do something. The excuse has always been it's too hard, but we have just proven it isn't too hard. So what happens at the end of this, how do we rethink what's going on?"

The annual hour of darkness aims to highlight the impact humans are having on the planet through climate change, pollution, plastic and food production.

Katie White, executive director of advocacy and campaigns at WWF-UK, said: "These are really unprecedented times, and I know a lot of people are looking for ways to connect and feel connected.

"In this global health crisis, now is a pivotal time for us to work together to safeguard our future and the future of our planet."

More than 7,000 cities in some 170 countries were estimated to have taken part last year.

WWF is also encouraging supporters to join in online by tagging #EarthHour, while the organisation said it is running a series of virtual events - such as a silent disco and a Facebook quiz.

Ms White said: "While - first and foremost - our thoughts are with those affected by coronavirus, and those who are working so hard in healthcare and other vital services, many millions of us are working and operating from our homes.

"Taking part in Earth Hour this year feels very timely - a time when millions unite around the world to show they care about the future of our planet.

"In these difficult times, It's an opportunity to inspire hope."