LONDON (AP) — Sydney's iconic Harbor Bridge and Opera House went dark on Saturday as Australians switched off lights around the country for an hour as part of a global effort to shine a spotlight on climate change.
Hundreds of landmarks around the world, including Washington's National Cathedral, Big Ben in London, the Great Wall of China and Tokyo Tower were being dimmed at 8:30 p.m. local time.
The central Sydney icons have been taking part in the annual event since Earth Hour began as a Sydney-only event in 2007. Australia is among the first countries to hit the light switches each year.
In New Zealand, Sky Tower in Auckland and parliament buildings in Wellington switched off two hours earlier. In Hong Kong, buildings along Victoria Harbour, including the International Finance Centre, the second tallest building in the southern Chinese hub, went dark.
Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, and St. Paul's Cathedral were among the London landmarks due to go dark later Saturday, according to the Washington-based WWF, which organizes the event.
Hundreds of businesses and organizations across the British capital and across the country plan to follow suit, including the Savoy, where the hotel's front hall, its bars and restaurants are due to be lit by candlelight for 60 minutes.
In Germany, WWF activists planned to light 5,000 blue and green candles in the form of a globe in front of Berlin's Brandenburg Gate before city officials switch off the monument's lighting.
Across the Nordic nations, government buildings and municipalities are joining in. Among them are Stockhom's royal castle and the Swedish capital's huge globe-shaped sports arena. In Sweden's second largest city, Goteborg, the main boulevard will bathe in an hour's darkness.
WWF said the number of countries and territories participating has grown from 135 last year to 147 this year.
Libya, Algeria, Bhutan and French Guinea are among those participating for the first time.
"Earth Hour 2012 is a celebration of people power; the world's largest mass event in support of the planet," WWF official Dermot O'Gorman told reporters in Sydney on Saturday, hours before the event there.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
An armed robbery suspect has life-threatening injuries after being shot in Fond du Lac County.
The crash scene is clear. Both lanes of I-43 in this area are back open.
Many roads throughout Northeast Wisconsin are snow covered and slippery.
The Oneida Police Department is once again helping people in need stay warm this winter.
Fans at Sunday's Packers-Falcons game ran into a wintry problem.
A snowy Sunday set the stage for a classic Christmas tale at the National Railroad Museum.