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Two dozen cities will switch off lights in gesture on global warming

Two dozen cities around the world plan to turn their lights off for one hour later this year in a worldwide campaign to raise awareness about global warming, organizers said Wednesday.

Last March, Sydney dimmed its skyline when residents, businesses and the local government took part in the first "Earth Hour'' event that asked people to think about cutting their energy use. The event was a hit and the World Wildlife Fund, the event's organizer, said it would try to make the campaign global.

So far, 24 cities have agreed to take part in this year's event, scheduled for March 29, the environmental group said.

Under the plan, lights in each city will be switched off for one hour at 8:00 p.m. local time.

Atlanta, Bangkok, Dublin, Montreal, Ottawa, Phoenix, San Francisco and Vancouver agreed this week to dim the lights, joining Chicago, four Danish cities, six Australian state and territory capitals, Manila, Suva, Tel Aviv, Toronto and Christchurch that signed up earlier, the fund said.

Andy Ridley, the executive director of the event, estimated that up to 30 million people in participating cities could become involved in this year's event, and organizers were hopeful of recruiting more.

"Even though the response has been overwhelming, we're still hopeful that more cities will come on board,'' Ridley said in a statement. "Climate change is a truly global issue and people around the world are demanding action.''

Sydney was not the first city to cut the lights for conservation. In February last year, Paris and other parts of France dimmed the lights for five minutes in a similar gesture. Rome, Athens, Bangkok and San Francisco have also held similar events.

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