EARTH HOUR – TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY AND NEW PERSPECTIVES

Climate Change Earth Hour is a 60 minutes’ event when lights are switched off all over the world as a message from private people, companies, institutions and cities to people with the power to make a difference to act against climate change.

Earth Hour was celebrated by millions of people around the globe last Saturday the 25 March. It was at the same time a ten-year anniversary celebration, as World Wildlife Fund launched the event for the first time in Australia in 2007. It is said to be the world’s largest climate event where people, companies and cities turn off the light between 20.30 and 21.30 in a symbolic action.

“We congratulate WWF with the anniversary. Earth Hour is a highly successful, visual movement and turning off the light is an expressive act that everyone can relate to. It creates a global focus on the climate challenges and also serves as a platform for further climate action,” says Vattenfall Head of Environment, Helle Herk-Hansen.

The symbolic of 60+
“The Earth Hour logo is 60+, symbolising the 60 minutes with switched off light and + for all that can be done the rest of the year. Turning off the light is a good symbol to remind us that our individual actions can make a difference, and that we should act accordingly the remaining part of the year. It is important to be energy efficient and save resources wherever it is possible. That said we should also remember that it is important not to see electricity as a negative thing, but to look at the opportunities it brings, when it originates from energy sources with a low environmental impact. Then we can actually start using electricity as an enabler for reducing climate impacts. This is where Vattenfall has a clear intention of being a leader in the energy transition and supplier of climate-smarter solutions - in other words to execute all 8760 hours every year,” Herk-Hansen explains. 

Vattenfall and the wider perspective
It is important to remember that an increase in electricity consumption can actually be a positive thing, provided it reflects a shift away from fossil energy sources.

Herk-Hansen explains: “The carbon reduction gained by moving from fossil to more renewable electricity-generating sources clearly varies with each country’s mix of production facilities. In Sweden, where almost all electricity is produced by non-fossil energy sources, electrification of sectors using fossil fuels has a big climate improvement potential. But we shouldn’t forget that even in mainland Europe, where electricity is to some extent still based on fossil fuels, there is a potential for cutting carbon emissions through electrification.”

Vattenfall is right now working on decarbonising industrial processes in collaboration with the Swedish steel company SSAB, the minerals group LKAB, and the bio-fuels company Preem by replacing fossil fuels with renewable energy and hydrogen. If a similar potential switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy in cement works is realised, the aggregate potential carbon emission savings in Sweden could run into some 15 million tonnes. Also batteries and electricity storage play an important part in the transition to fossil-free energy by supporting the use of the more “unstable” renewable energy sources.

The transport sector is a vital part of the energy transition. More charging points are being installed for instance in Stockholm and Berlin, and with Vattenfall’s launch of its partner-based charging network “InCharge” counting thousands of charging points of affiliated companies in Sweden, Germany and the Netherlands, it will be easier for drivers of electric vehicles via a mobile app to see, where the closest affiliated charging station is located, and how many chargers are free. The convenience and safety of not “running out of power” will hopefully add to the interest in and usability of electric cars. Within public transport, Vattenfall is furthermore participating in a pilot project with electrical buses that, apart from the carbon gain, also improves air quality and reduces noise in the cities.

“A conscious approach to energy consumption, where we all avoid using energy needlessly is of course necessary to protect the climate. But as the share of renewable electricity is increasing day-by-day, electricity will become an important key in solving the global climate challenges. And we are proud to be able to contribute to that,” Herk-Hansen concludes.

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