Join the hour

Friday, March 28th, 2014

Earth Hour is now so much more than just switching your lights off for an hour. It is a global movement of people taking action for the environment. Earth Hour 2013 witnessed a significant increase in participation as the world united in support of this World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) campaign. Table Mountain was again a participating landmark, while debutants included Moscow’s Kremlin and Red Square Complex – even Big Ben went dark for an hour.

This year Cape Town, South Africa has been selected as the Global Earth Hour Capital in recognition of the city’s actions to address climate change. The title is awarded as part of the global Earth Hour City Challenge (EHCC), a collaborative effort between WWF and Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) which aims to highlight and reward cities that are prepared to make substantial long-term efforts to combat climate change.

Wineries are increasingly becoming involved in honouring Earth Hour. For example, Steenberg will host an Earth Hour Picnic. “The Earth Hour initiative is of great relevance to us at Steenberg. We look forward to taking part in an event which symbolises the importance of commitment to the planet,” says John Loubser, Steenberg’s General Manager. Grande Provence will be hosting a ‘Dine in the Dark’ event, with guests surrounded by countless candles and a menu created from local, sustainable, naturally farmed and organic ingredients. Spier, currently in conversion to organic, will host a BBQ by lantern light.

Wider greening of the Cape is occurring via its Biodiversity & Wine Initiative (BWI) and sustainability seal (run by the Wine and Spirit Board), making South Africa world leaders in production integrity. Producers who bear the seal on their bottles indicate that the wine has been produced sustainably, in an earth-friendly manner with full traceability.

Over 142 000 ha of natural area has been conserved by BWI producers in the past nine years. This means that the South African wine industry’s conservation footprint is well in excess of its current vineyard footprint of just under 101 000 ha. For every hectare under vineyard, more than an additional hectare of natural vegetation is committed to conservation.

There are now 10 known biodynamic and at least 38 organic wine producers in the Cape. It’s a relatively small number but growing according to the certification bodies. Biodynamic producer Reyneke has dominated the Nedbank Green Awards – now in its sixth year – in the past while recent winners include Laibach and Waverley Hills (organic grapes);  Backsberg, Paul Cluver and Uitkyk (BWI Initiative);  and Bartinney, Delheim and La Motte (best farming practices).

Backsberg was the Cape’s first carbon-neutral winery while Nederburg has achieved a 33% reduction in the consumption of electricity (per unit production that’s measured per litre of wine). It has also cut down on the use of other fossil fuel-based energy sources by 43% and uses 15% less water. Villiera installed solar panels on cellar roofs to supply all its daytime requirements outside of harvest time and also has several other innovative sustainability initiatives in place.  Similarly did Kleinood (Tamboerskloof brand).

This year, WWF’s Earth Hour campaign will be calling on you to make your individual promise to the planet by asking the question: “How do you Honour the Earth?” Make your promise to the Earth and share it with the world here:

The campaign’s recent achievements include the passing of a new law in Russia to protect the seas from oil pollution; 3.4m ha of Argentina’s seas are now protected; and Uganda is planting 500 000 trees in the world’s first Earth Hour forest.

In 2014, with the launch of the new crowdsourcing and crowdfunding platform Earth Hour Blue, the movement further expands its digital reach. This makes it possible for everyone to support and donate to WWF projects all over the world.

For example, you can donate to restore the Roodeberg, a portion of land, into the Table Mountain National Park:

When it comes to the actual Earth Hour events, people on the ground are the ones who make the campaign such a unique success story. Once again this year millions of people in more than 7 000 cities and over 150 countries will make some outstanding and amazing Earth Hour events happen.

Next year, remember to create your own event:

What have you got planned for 8:30pm on Saturday 29 March 2014?

– Jonathan Snashall