On Funafuti, the Tuvaluans experienced a fully-fledged top down approach on the Earth Hour when the government decided to shut down the power plant for 1 hour. On the outer islands, the power plant shuts down every night from midnight to 6 in the morning.
We were, along side lots of our Tuvaluan friends, a little surprised when we heard that the Earth Hour was not a voluntary private power-shut-down as we are used to in Europe. The government of Tuvalu had decided to show the strong support of the Tuvaluans to the WWF-campaign by shutting down the entire capital island.
Power cuts are not that exceptional for most Tuvaluans. If you live on an isolated island that is entirely dependent on oil for its diesel-power-plants – then you have to learn to save. Especially on the outer islands of Tuvalu where the small cargo ship sometimes comes once a month. This ship has to carry all the food, materials and fuel that all the islands on the route need. Consequently it is not possible to get unlimited amounts of fuel for their diesel-plants. For this reason, every night, at midnight, the power plant shuts off until the morning.
When we asked our friend Aloseta Toematagi, from one of the southern islands Nukulaelae, what oil countries as Norway should do for climate change and for the developing countries, he said that he really wanted Norway to help the inhabitants of Nukulaelae by giving them solar panels to produce power auto sufficiently.
- In that way we could have a much more reliable source of energy.
I was, to be honest, a bit disappointed. The government’s decision deprived me of the chance to see how many Tuvaluans would actually turn off their lights for Earth Hour. But on the other hand I don’t know whether earth hour makes a big difference for Tuvaluans. They already know way to well what it is like to be short of energy and how we can make it better.
Earth Hour started in Australia in 2007 and has from then spread all over the world.
Read more about Earth Hour here: www.earthhour.org