SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — The Sydney Opera House's gleaming white-shelled roof was darkened Saturday night along with much of Australia's largest city, which switched off the lights to register concern about global warming.
The arch of Sydney's other iconic structure, the harbor bridge, also was blacked out, along with dozens of skyscrapers and countless homes in an hourlong gesture that organizers said they hoped would be adopted as an annual event by cities around the world.
Mayor Clover Moore, whose officials shut down all nonessential lights on city-owned buildings, said Sydney, which has a population of 4 million, was "asking people to think about what action they can take to fight global warming."
Restaurants held candlelight dinners, and families gathered in public places to take part in a countdown, sending up a cheer as lights started blinking off at 7:30 p.m. Buildings went dark one by one, but some floors in city skyscrapers remained lighted, as did street lights and others at commercial port operations and a sports stadium.
Organizers hope the event, which 2,000 businesses and more than 60,000 individuals signed up for, will prompt people to think about regularly switching off nonessential lights, powering down computers and other simple measures they say could cut Sydney's greenhouse gas emissions by 5% this year.
"It's absolutely fantastic. There's a mood of enthusiasm and hopefulness and action," said Greg Bourne, chief executive of World Wildlife Fund Australia and one of the organizers of the event. "I have never seen Sydney's skyline look so dark."
Global warming has emerged this year as a political issue in Australia, and Prime Minister John Howard's government, criticized for refusing to sign the Kyoto Protocol on greenhouse gas emissions, has announced initiatives such as the phased withdrawal from sale of energy-inefficient incandescent bulbs.