With Cipriana Botez and Josh Allerton in Guangzhou and Danny Lee in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour
Hong Kong may be ‘Asia’s World City’ and a global financial hub, but it also has the dubious title of the world’s worst light polluter – making this Earth Hour even more appropriate.
Darkness fell for 60 minutes on Saturday as cities from around the world joined people in flicking off the lights to raise awareness about climate change.
Tourists gathering on Tsim Sha Tsui’s waterfront were disappointed the city’s had cancelled its nightly light show, but still cheered when the lights went out on many of Hong Kong’s hundreds of skyscrapers precisely at 8pm.
For one hour, the Pearl River Delta was dark.
Guangzhou’s Zhujiang New Town
Guangzhou’s brightly illuminated skyline was missing a few of its symbols. The Canton Tower, along with the neighbouring IFC and Opera House, merged with the dark night sky as they switched off their glittering lights.
Vincent Qiu, who has worked as a Senior Duty Manager at the Canton Tower since its opening in 2010, thinks participating in Earth Hour is part of the Tower’s responsibility to raise environmental awareness.
“I think that as a landmark of the city, the Canton Tower should join such organised events because nowadays the air pollution is very serious,” he said. “We have a very big impact, not just in Guangzhou, but also in the whole China.”
Macau, which also dimmed its lights, fared far better than Hong Kong in adding some weight to its green credentials.
Thirteen major hotels in the gambling enclave joined forces to switch off their lights, and will do so every month in order to conserve energy.
Dining in the dark
Poolside at the China Hotel, a Marriott Hotel, in Guangzhou, a modest yet warm atmosphere engulfed the terrace and indoor restaurant, with candles lit on all the tables and guests dining in the darkness.
“It only began a few years ago so it’s amazing to see how fast it has grown around the world,” said Food & Beverage Guest Service Manager David Nebehay. “The people who created this event were leading by example and that’s what we want to do here, lead by example.”
Ever since Hong Kong joined the ranks of the Earth Hour movement in 2009, it has emitted 35,000 hours of light pollution, while only saving four hours in the process.
A balance is yet to be struck between the environment, and in Hong Kong’s case, tourism. It still doesn’t have laws to deal with external lighting which could alter the skyline’s DNA.
This year’s Earth Hour was set among the backdrop of the worst air quality readings in Beijing, accompanied by thick, hazy, grey skies and more research to suggest pollution in Hong Kong caused several thousand premature deaths.
Check out The Nanfang’s photos in Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour, at the Canton Tower and the Marriott Hotel, a China Hotel in Guangzhou.