Canberra glows during Earth Hour to protect the reef

SOURCE: The Canberra Times

A CANDLE for every coral reef and island that make up the Great Barrier Reef shone in front of Parliament House last night as part of a nationwide push to protect the fragile site from the impacts of climate change.

The odd downpour didn't get in the way of 3600 candles being nestled in the wet grass at Federation Mall to spell ''Lights out for the Reef'' as the city plunged into darkness to mark Earth Hour 2014.

Artist Jorge Pujol spent the past five days laying out markers for the display, which featured the most candles ever used to send an Earth Hour message in Australia.

More than 100 volunteers helped light the candles before the capital went dark for an hour from 8.30pm.

Across the ACT, friends gathered for barbecues while cafes and restaurants hosted candlelit dinners. Many more residents turned their lights off at home for an hour to show their support.

Earth Hour's national manager Anna Rose said the city's enthusiasm for the annual event showed Canberrans were ''pretty switched on when it comes to climate change''.

''Traditionally Canberra has been one of the strongest supporters of Earth Hour,'' she said. ''It has always had the highest or second highest rate of participation in Australia in terms of people and events.'' The capital was among 7000 cities in 154 countries to ''flick the switch'' this year.

Organisers hoped to put pressure on politicians to do more to save the Great Barrier Reef from rising sea levels and warmer temperatures.

''The reef is one of the most vulnerable places in the world to the impacts of climate change,'' Ms Rose said. ''Earth Hour is calling on the federal government to increase its target to cut carbon pollution and increase its renewable energy target.''

Climate change has been identified as one of the greatest threats to the World Heritage-listed site.

Lights out for the Reef on the lawns of Parliament House for Earth Hour. Photo: Jay Cronan.

Lights out for the Reef on the lawns of Parliament House for Earth Hour. Photo: Jay Cronan.