At a full meeting of Derry City Council today, Council was called upon to make Derry part of the global Earth Hour movement, which aims to raise awareness of the need and the processes of energy awareness and of raising energy efficiency in the interests of reducing the city's 'carbon footprint'.
The proposal was brought by SDLP Cllr Angela Dobbins, and stated that her motion proposed: "That this Council recognises the importance of Earth Hour in raising awareness of climate change; participates in Earth Hour 2015 on Saturday 28th March; examines ways of improving energy efficiency to minimise cost to ratepayers and to reduce its carbon footprint; and actively promotes an energy efficiency culture to residents and businesses across the Council area."
Cllr Dobbins added: “Earth Hour is a global movement which promotes awareness of climate change. The annual event which began in Sydney in 2007 has now expanded to over 150 countries and 7,000 cities worldwide. Today I brought a motion to council for approval because I believe that Derry should be one of those cities and that this Council should take the lead in promoting Earth Hour to our residents and businesses.
Earth Hour encourages individuals, communities, households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour as a symbol of their commitment to the planet.
In essence it would be ‘lights out’ in all Council-owned facilities for 1 hour beginning at 8.30pm on March 28th. The Guildhall Clock would not be lit and the Council offices would be shrouded in darkness.
Some will say that this is a token gesture, but the substantive issue is how we as a Council embrace the concept of Earth Hour and use it to improve our energy efficiency in a bid to reduce our carbon footprint and minimise our energy bills. We should carry out a detailed survey of our energy usage to understand if there are ways of reducing it.
One of the key transformational themes in the One Plan is the establishment of Derry as an Eco-City. We should be working hard to deliver all programme activity, be it the establishment of the Institute for Sustainable Technologies at Magee or the proposed green tech business park. We should embrace the potential of green energy in the region but we should also take the lead in promoting energy efficiency to our businesses and constituents.