15 M Pinoys back Earth Hour

By Rhodina Villanueva, The Philippine Star

Posted at Mar 29 2014 09:43 AM | Updated as of Mar 29 2014 05:43 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Don’t forget to switch off the lights from 8:30 to 9:30 tonight for Mother Earth.

At least 15 million Filipinos are expected to switch off their lights tonight as the country’s contribution to Earth Hour, a worldwide gesture to show commitment in mitigating the impact of climate change, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said yesterday.

The Philippines expects to save at least 738 megawatts of power during the one-hour lights-off, cutting down some 508 tons of carbon dioxide emissions.

This sends a strong message around the world that a simple act of energy conservation can make a big difference, the DENR reminded.

Participating Filipinos would join seven billion people from 154 countries and 1,000 cities around the globe in this massive campaign to save on electricity and reduce greenhouse gas emission.

“At 8:30 p.m. tonight, you can either initiate your own switch-off in your own homes or be part of bigger switch-off initiatives led by communities or establishments,” said Gia Ibay, Earth Hour Philippines national director and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Philippines climate change program director.

Eastwood Mall Open Park and SM Mall of Asia’s By the Bay area are just two of the several venues where Earth Hour would be observed.

Earth Hour representatives and celebrities would be deployed in these areas.

The Makati City government and other local government units would also participate in the annual lights-off event.

“In America, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Empire State Building in New York, and the Space Needle in Seattle are just some popular sites which will be switching off their lights for the event. In the United Kingdom, Wembley Stadium, Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye shall dim facade lights. Over 400 monuments in France, including the Eiffel Tower, will go dark,” Ibay added.

This global call for energy conservation is led by the Washington-based environmental group WWF in cooperation with the Department of Energy, Green Army Philippines Network, and the SWITCH movement.

Earth Hour started in Sydney, Australia in 2007 as a lights-off event. Today, it has become the largest recurring environmental mass action, with over 150 of the world’s 196 countries joining the global switch off.

The Philippines earned the distinction of being an “Earth Hour Hero Country” by consistently registering the most number of participating towns and cities since it first joined the event in 2009. That year, 647 cities and towns in the Philippines participated in the Earth Hour, saving 611 megawatts of electricity during the period.

This year, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle and newly appointed Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Cardinal Quevedo are again encouraging Filipinos to join in the observance of Earth Hour.

“Let us give importance to our environment. Let us make sacrifices in our electrical consumption in order that the Lord’s creation would be preserved and last longer,” said Tagle said.

Sen. Loren Legarda, head of the Senate committees on climate change and on environment and natural resources, noted that oftentimes people are overwhelmed by the gargantuan task of protecting the environment without realizing that small acts result in significant achievements.

“Earth Hour has always been more than just about turning lights off. It’s about people from all walks of life coming together throughout the year to show what they can do to protect the planet,” Earth Hour CEO Andy Ridley said.

The WWF is also challenging Filipinos to go beyond Earth Hour and initiate environmentally friendly efforts.

Records from the WWF show that each Filipino emits about 0.9 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, and that each kilowatt-hour of electricity consumed is equivalent to 0.50 kilograms of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. – With Ric Sapnu, Raffy Viray, Evelyn Macairan, Christina Mendez