On the eve of the celebration of Earth Hour on Saturday night, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said it was time again for Filipinos to “shine” and showcase their environmental awareness by switching off their lights for 60 minutes.
“Earth Hour is certainly the most vivid and dramatic measure of our unity for a common cause,” Paje said. “This mass switch-off means less consumption of electricity, slowing the buildup of climate change-
inducing carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.”
Earth Hour is a worldwide event organized by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to encourage households and businesses to turn off their nonessential lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. to raise awareness about the need to take action on climate change.
Since 2009, or two years after Earth Hour was launched, the Philippines has consistently topped the event in terms of the number of participating cities and towns, earning the title, “Earth Hour Hero Country.”
Last year, a record-breaking 1,671 cities and towns in the Philippines joined the 60-minute switch-off, according to WWF-Philippines. On Saturday night, organizers are gunning for the country’s fifth consecutive first-place finish.
One of many ways
Paje said in a statement there was no doubt Filipinos “are among the most environmentally conscious people in the world.” But he said he hoped the environmental consciousness of Filipinos would not end with just the country’s participation in the annual event.
“We hope that we can maintain and harness this unity for our other environmental advocacies,” Paje said, noting that Earth Hour was just “one of the many ways by which we manifest our environmental citizenship.”
Paje cited efforts by his department to mitigate the impact of climate change, including the national greening program—a massive reforestation effort—and continuing crackdown on illegal logging.
He said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources was intensifying its campaign to minimize air pollution by promoting the use of clean fuel and energy efficient products.
Beware smoke belchers
Paje said his office continued to coordinate with local officials and the Land Transportation Office in curbing pollution from mobile sources by cracking down on smoke-belching vehicles.
The Philippines has also successfully implemented clean development mechanism (CDM) projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the use of environmentally sustainable fuel technologies, he said.
The country is ranked 10th in the world on the number of CDM projects, with 59 registered with the United Nations, he said.
Lanterns on the river
As part of the Earth Hour observance, hundreds of candle-lit lanterns will be released at Dawel River in Dagupan City Saturday night.
Pee-Jay Magpantay, marketing coordinator of RLL Group of Jollibee Stores, which is leading the event in Dagupan, said the activity would be held at the Dawel River cruise dock.
About 300 Jollibee customers, representatives from civic and environment groups, the local chapter of the Autism Society of the Philippines and the city government will join the activity, Magpantay said.
“This is our company’s renewed commitment to support the cause of saving our environment,” he said.
Last year, the RLL Group of Jollibee Stores spearheaded the observance of Earth Hour by releasing lanterns in the air.
Magpantay said his company had won various awards producing ecotarp bags made from used tarpaulins, launching fun bikes for a cause, sponsoring environment forums and spearheading tree-planting activities.—With a report from Gabriel Cardinoza, Inquirer Northern Luzon