EARTH HOUR, the global warming awareness initiative that captured the imagination of hundreds of thousands of Sydneysiders earlier this year, is poised to go international.
David Kirk, the chief executive of Fairfax Media, publisher of the Herald, today will signal the company's intention to extend the campaign across its mastheads through Australia and New Zealand.
He said Fairfax and its co-organiser, the environmental group WWF, would share its know-how with cities in Australia and elsewhere wanting to mark Earth Hour, and appealed for more support from the corporate sector.
Several other cities across the world are considering joining Sydney and turning off the lights for one symbolic hour.
Pictures of a darkened harbour were shown on television channels including BBC, CNN, CBS, Al Jazeera and Sky News, and in newspapers from Bolivia to Bucharest, as Sydney flicked the switch one Saturday, last March.
"We made the news - and made history," Mr Kirk said. "But Earth Hour was more than just a statement or feel-good moment." It gave a glimpse of the potential for energy savings and reductions in emissions.
Subsequent polls reporting that 2 million people had participated in Earth Hour also demonstrated widespread public support for serious measures to tackle global warming. Indeed Mr Kirk believes businesses and large parts of the population have been way ahead of the Government on the issue.
The chief executive of WWF, Greg Bourne, said: "Nearly 70,000 people signed on to the Earth Hour website, 2500 businesses pledged their support, 3000 schools participated and hundreds of parties were held in the city."
Celebrities, including the actor Cate Blanchett, got on board. Among the schools to spread the message was Ultimo Public School, some of whose 10- and 11-year-old pupils were seen in an award-winning DVD promoting the Earth Hour project.
The school has also gone green. It grows vegetables - well, vegetable, a cauliflower - keeps a compost heap and maintains a frog pond, where it is engaged in a round-the-clock battle to protect the inhabitants from hungry ibis.
As nine-year-old Louie Coghill said yesterday, the school has also appointed "light monitors" to switch off when the children leave their classrooms.
"It's a small start," the principal, Stephanie Searle, said. "But I think this is the best age at which children can develop an understanding that they can each make a difference when it comes to saving energy."