Earth Hour Team Captain: Dr. Jose Etcheverry, academic ally in Toronto, Ontario

By Carly Digweed, Communications Intern, WWF-Canada
Truly practicing the emissions-reducing initiatives that he preaches, Dr. Etcheverry was en route to his local GO Bus station, when he picked up his phone to chat with us.
When you see global movements like Earth Hour, that reach a diverse range of countries, cities, and communities, how do you see them developing into worldwide action or change?
I find it’s movements like Earth Hour that are essential for change. These kinds of events bring communities together, which helps people to realize they are not actually alone in this. It becomes apparent that these people share the same concerns – people want better livelihoods for their families, communities, and the planet. When we all come together, it doesn’t matter where you are, you see that people are working towards change.

© Jeremiah Armstrong / WWF-Canada

Why do you think Earth Hour is important for your students and overall academic community?
Earth Hour helps people remember that there’s an environmental crisis happening, and addresses that fact that we need to recognize the problem and work hard to find solutions. Being a student, you have the ability to understand your individual realm of influence, and through engagement and movements like this, young people become empowered; they realize they need to take charge of their own destiny.
What are some challenges you face with engaging the public in environmental issues, like climate change?
Getting the public engaged in climate change is a process that requires constant work. Especially in an academic setting – working with young people – you cannot assume that everyone knows what you’re talking about. With every new generation, you have to explain the problems and solutions, and reinforce the importance of events like Earth Hour. Similarly in a larger context, different countries are at different stages of realization of climate change.
But it’s key to give people a sense of hope, regardless if we are talking on a national level or at a community level – people need a true sense of hope. We have to show people that the benefits of solving the problem are much greater than if we do not.
You’re organizing a student event for Earth Hour on Friday, March 22. What do you hope to accomplish with this event? What do you hope the students take away from it?
My goal is to instill hope in each and every one of the students that attend. I want them to realize that change can happen if you know you have the ability to start it. We are having the event outside of our faculty to spread this message in other passionate clusters.
Even though this is the first year we’re holding an event for Earth Hour, we will continue to have it until there is no need; until the environmental crisis is no more. I hope that together we can get a sense of how to improve our call to action for next year, so that the impact is even greater than before. Earth Hour is truly about inspiring today, the leaders of tomorrow, and I hope that our event inspires people to take action as soon as possible.
Looking for Earth Hour inspiration or suggestions for getting your student community involved in Earth Hour? Never fear, WWF is here! We have a variety of Earth Hour ideas and resources to help you get the ball rolling.
‘The ‘Earth Hour Team Captains’ blog series highlights on-the-ground leaders who are making a difference in communities all over Canada. Championing the spirit of Earth Hour with year-round actions, these individuals are making strides toward a greener future.