Greece had yesterday overtaken countless other countries taking part in next Saturday’s Earth Hour, a worldwide initiative aimed at getting people to switch off their lights for one hour, with 18,000 individuals and businesses signing onto the energy-saving scheme, the highest rate of per capita participation to date. With 270 local authorities, 312 businesses, 151 schools and 57 nongovernment organizations having signed up already, Greece has overtaken Australia, where the scheme was devised. Australia is currently in third place, with Canada in second place, after Greece. On Saturday, March 28, between 8.30 and 9.30 p.m., the lights will go out on the Parthenon in Athens, Thessaloniki’s White Tower and several other prominent landmarks as thousands of citizens and businesses join in, flicking off light switches in their homes and stores. Greece’s participation in the initiative is being promoted further by the Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios, known as the «green patriarch» due to his environmental activism. Vartholomaios has appealed to all citizens, regardless of their religious faith and ethnic origin, to join the scheme and embrace greener ways in general. According to conservation group WWF Hellas, lesser-known but equally devoted clerics are drumming up support for the cause in Greece. One example is Father Giorgos Nanos, a priest based on the island of Evia who has already devoted two sermons to Earth Hour as well as putting up posters promoting participation. «It is encouraging that a broad range of groups is being sensitized,» said Giorgos Vellidis of WWF Hellas, who is organizing Greece’s participation in Earth Hour. «In the two years that WWF’s climate change campaign has been running it has become clear that many people know the basics – the point is for them to put this knowledge into action,» Vellidis added. Those interested in boosting numbers for Greece’s participation in the initiative, which is being sponsored by Skai and Kathimerini should sign up at http:// www.earthhour.org/signup/gr:el.