Earth Hour Launch

(6pm, Saturday 23 March 2013, Museum of Contemporary Art)

Thank you, MC. Hello, everyone. Welcome to Earth Hour 2013.

I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our City.

I also acknowledge:

  • The Hon Peter Garrett, Minister for School Education, Early Childhood & Youth
  • Dermot O'Gorman, CEO of WWF Australia
  • Nick Lake, the CEO of Sungevity Australia
  • Elizabeth Ann Macgregor
  • Councillors

We are no longer discussing the threat of climate change.

From the exceptional heatwaves, floods and fires that gripped our country this summer, smashing historical records, to the catastrophic storms overseas, there is no question that we are now living with the reality of catastrophic climate change.

We've seen the tragic impacts of Superstorm Sandy, the Black Saturday bushfires and the Queensland floods.

From the 1950s, each decade has been warmer than the previous decade.

The CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology have recorded a warming trend of 0.16°C per decade since then, more extremely hot days and nights, and less extremely cold days and nights.

The carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere in 2011 was 390 parts per million - higher than at any time in the past 800,000 years.

It's increasingly clear that burning fossil fuels has caused these exceptional increases.

And it's set to get hotter, with Australian average temperatures projected to rise by 1 to 5 °C by 2070.

This is a roaring train, picking up speed.

We need to work with people across the world, need to stop, or at least slow this out of control train.

Practical steps are needed - and we need to demand that government leaders take action.

I'm proud that we started Earth Hour in Sydney and now both nationally and internationally because turning off the lights for an hour is a powerful symbolic message to our leaders, from people around the globe, to we want action for the future of our planet.

It's also a powerful personal step for the hundreds of thousands of people who take part.

It's a real, physical step to switching on to renewable energy, and an impetus to take action every day in our own backyards.

Thank you.