Earth Hour draws more support

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

MORE people joined this year’s Earth Hour observance, which meant more power saved compared to the previous year.

The Visayan Electric Co. (Veco) announced after the Earth Hour activity at Plaza Independencia last night that over 11,000 kilowatt hours or about 11 megawatts (mw) were saved because of the activity.

Some 340,000 households turned off their lights for one hour, they added.


In recent years, Veco records showed less power was saved in the yearly event that encourages households and businesses to turn off their lights for one hour to raise awareness on the need to take action to address climate change.

Last night, those who participated in the Earth Hour activity at Plaza Independencia in Cebu City pledged to live a “greener” lifestyle.

They promised to use reusable bags instead of plastics, unplug appliances when not in use, conserve water and electricity, segregate trash properly, and recycle.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 said switching off non-essential lights for one hour sent a message of increased awareness of the adverse effects of global warming.

“This is an expression of our solidarity and concerted action with the rest of the world that we, as a nation, are serious about reducing our carbon footprint by reducing our electrical consumption,” said DENR 7 Executive Director Dr. Isabelo Montejo in a statement.

The increased participation was a welcome break, amid observations that fewer households and businesses were observing the annual Earth Hour activity.

Cebu City Councilor Nida Cabrera, chairperson of the council’s committee on environment, has expressed disappointment in the decreasing participation in the previous years.

For this year’s activity, Cabrera said she was happy to know that the participants in the Earth Hour, as well as the power saved, increased.

The City Council has passed two weeks ago a resolution asking all 80 barangays of the city to participate in this year’s activity.

In 2009, Veco recorded 11,012.62 kwh of power saved during the Earth Hour. This increased to 13,249.50 in 2010 but dropped to 6,983 in 2011.

For 2012, it further dropped to only 2,777.

In an interview last night, Sebastian Lacson, Veco’s vice president for administration, said: “We can’t tell why it (public participation) reduced. Dili lang gyud sila mopalong sa ilang suga (People just wouldn’t switch off their lights for an hour).”

“We don’t want to force it because it’s supposed to be a personal effort,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr. Montejo of DENR appealed to the public to switch off not only their lights but also other non-essential electrical appliances.

Earth Hour, a 60-minute switch-off that started in Sydney, Australia on March 31, 2007, has since spread to 152 countries.

“Earth Hour’s mission is threefold: to bring people together via a symbolic hour-long event, to galvanize people into taking action beyond the hour, and to create an interconnected global community working toward sustainable living practices,” said Earth Hour Philippines National Director Atty. Gia Ibay in a statement.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Philippines was the first nation in Southeast Asia to pledge total support for the global project.

After five Earth Hour celebrations, the country is on track to break records with at least 1,640 towns, cities and provinces pledging to join the global switch-off this year.

“Remember that Earth Hour is no mere 60-minute switch-off,” said WWF-Philippines vice chairman and CEO Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan.

“It is an idea: that each of us has the capacity to change the world we live in. For only by reducing our individual impacts can we continue enjoying life as we know it. Together, we must find the energy to turn the inspiration of Earth Hour, into the actions of every hour,” he added.

DENR 7’s Montejo suggested lowering the use of energy by changing light bulbs to compact fluorescent light (CFLs) instead of incandescent bulbs. CFLs use up 75 percent less electricity and last up to 13 times longer.

“We should also not overcharge our mobile phones,” he added.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 24, 2013.

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