As lights dimmed out in homes, hotel chains, foreign mission offices and government buildings between 8.30 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. on Saturday, Chennai joined 6,000 cities across the world in observing Earth Hour.

Earth Hour, which is meant to raise awareness on climate change issues, is a global call to take responsibility, to get involved and lead the way towards a sustainable future.

“Everyone must do their bit for the planet,” said Information Technology Minister Poongothai Aladi Aruna, flagging off a cycle rally early in the morning, organised by HCL Technologies at the Marina beach. The rally was aimed at spreading awareness on global warming among IT professionals and school children.

“There are 1.5 lakh highly educated IT professionals in Chennai alone. Community participation is essential for change,” she said.

M. Sujeetha, one of the participants, asked, “Why wait till a power crisis which results in the government restricting supply every day?” She added that everyone must take individual responsibility. “Earth hour is a symbolic way of asking people to conserve power at their own convenience.”

The U.S. Consulate General joined the symbolic demonstration to highlight that everyone can make a difference by conserving the world's energy resources. Consulate personnel living across the city were encouraged to turn off lights at their homes, a press release said.

Hotels such as the Sheraton Park Hotel, Taj Coromandel and Courtyard by Marriott also stepped in by replacing interior lights with flickering candles and encouraging guests to “give back as much as one takes from the environment.”

S. Shivakumar, education officer, World Wildlife Fund, said the campaign was global to remind everyone that it's not longer about what country you're from, it's about what planet you're from. “Due to the campaign last year a few corporates have begun undertaking internal energy audits in an attempt to reduce their carbon footprint. That is how symbolic measures can lead to realistic change,” he added.

More In: Chennai