London is to make one of the biggest environmental statements Britain has ever witnessed next week, when the heart of the city switches off its lights in a mass twilight turn-off.
Between 9pm and 10pm on Thursday 21 June, many of London's most famous landmarks, including Buckingham Palace, Clarence House, Canary Wharf, the BT Tower and at least one government department, will execute the black-out to raise awareness of global warming.
London's three million households will be urged to switch off their non-essential lights and appliances in what organisers hope will be the first in a series of events that will spread to cities across the country. The event is based on Earth Hour, a similar, hour-long mass switch-off earlier this year in Sydney that involved 65,000 households and 2,000 businesses and landmarks, including the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge. Earth Hour saw energy consumption in the city fall by 10.2 per cent, meaning many fewer tonnes of carbon dioxide were released than otherwise would have been.
Lights Out London, however, will be considerably less dramatic because the event has been planned for the longest day of the year. Despite the fact that fewer lights will be needed on that evening than any other, Capital Radio, the event's sponsors, have refused to move the date. Their one concession was to move the event back an hour - they had originally planned to hold the switch-off between 8pm and 9pm, although sunset will not be until 9.20pm.