MAKATI, CEBU, DAVAO, Philippines– “My challenge is not about this next hour, but about what we will be doing in the days, months and years to come,” said Philippine President Benigno Aquino III during the opening rites of last Saturday’s global Earth Hour switch-off. “The challenge is to reduce our wants so we can fulfil everyone’s needs. I believe that so long as we are united under this goal, we will succeed.”
When the clock struck 8:30PM on Saturday night, 31 March, the Philippines was again engulfed in 60 minutes of darkness. A record-breaking 1671 Filipino towns, cities, provinces and municipalities – ten more than last year – joined the rest of the world in taking a stand against climate change. Organizers are elated by the immense outpouring of support from the government, private corporations and individuals.
Earth Hour 2012 completed a record journey across over 6525 cities, towns, provinces and municipalities in 150 countries and territories – its highest participation levels ever. The Philippines – declared a ‘Hero Country’ – retained the top spot for the fourth year in a row, contributing a full fourth of all territory participants.
Since 2008, Earth Hour Philippines has celebrated climate change solutions, ranking number one globally in terms of town and city participation since 2009.
Earth Hour became a global movement in 2008. The Philippines was the first Southeast Asian nation to pledge full support. Its flagship cities of Pasay, Manila, Parañaque and Makati observed a switch-off ceremony from 8:00 to 9:00PM on 28 March 2008 at the CCP grounds. Over 50 local towns and cities participated in the one-hour lights-out. Total power savings amounted to 80MWh. 56MWh was saved in Luzon alone – equivalent to shutting down a coal-fired power plant for one hour.
In 2009, the Philippines became the top Earth Hour country in terms of town and city participation, with 647 Philippine towns and cities joining in. Ten million Filipinos saved at least 611MWh of electricity in 2009 – equivalent to a temporary shutdown of a dozen coal-fired power plants.
In 2010, 1076 Philippine towns and cities participated. 1661 Philippine cities and municipalities switched off their lights for Earth Hour in 2011.
“We are elated to clinch the top spot for the fourth year in a row,” beams Earth Hour National Director Atty. Gia Ibay. “More than the numbers though, Earth Hour espouses the importance of our actions beyond the hour.”
“This year’s switch-off merely signifies the start of a yearlong pledge to minimize our ecological impacts and to do our bit for a more sustainable planet. These sustainable-living pledges can take many forms, from upgrading to energy-efficient appliances to choosing to bike to work every day. Pledges really depend on the individuals – who can personally assess what changes they can adopt to reduce their consumption of electricity and water.”
The central switch-off was held at Makati’s Ayala Tower One and was led by no less than Earth Hour Co-Founder Andy Ridley. The Earth Hour switch-off in Visayas was held in Cebu City’s Plaza Independencia. The Earth Hour switch-off for Mindanao was held at SM City Davao.
“This year’s celebration is a great success,” says Ibay. “It is a brilliant example of public and private sector collaboration and a true celebration of climate solutions.” Rough estimates peg the power saved to be at least 362MWh during this year’s 60-minute blackout: a drop of 214MWh was recorded for the Luzon grid, 91MWh for Mindanao and 57MWh for the Visayas.
A larger drop was recorded last year (with an estimated 418MWh saved during Earth Hour). WWF-Philippines Vice-Chair and CEO Jose Ma. Lorenzo Tan attributes the smaller drop to power shortages across the Visayas and Mindanao. “Our focus should not be how much power was saved or who topped Earth Hour or what. What matters is that we try to go beyond the hour.”
Public sector partners include the Climate Change Commission, Department of Energy, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Philippine Information Agency, Department of Public Works and Highways, Department of Science and Technology, Department of Agriculture, Department of Foreign Affairs, Department of National Defense, Department of Transportation and Communications, National Economic Development Authority, Department of Budget Management, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Education, the Metro Manila Development Authority, League of Municipalities, League of Cities and League of Provinces of the Philippines.
Philippine Media Champions include TV5, ABS-CBN, GMA-7, CLTV-36, Discovery Channel, Knowledge Channel, ZOE TV, Global News Network, Philippine Star, BusinessWorld, BusinessMirror, Philippine Daily Inquirer Online, Aftercall Magazine, Philippines Graphic, Radyo Veritas, DZIQ, DZAR, Globaltronics, QCreativs, Photoworld Manila, ASK and Illuminati Philippines.
This year’s major corporate sponsor was the Yuchengco Group of Companies. Other corporate champions include Arthaland, McDonald’s, Big Chill, Tully’s Coffee, Globe Telecommunications, DSL GAM LED Lighting Expert, Philips Lighting Systems, Smart Communications, Primer Group of Companies, Core, York, Victory Liner Incorporated, Aboitiz Group of Companies, Lopez Group of Companies, Philippine Business for Social Progress, Ayala Land, SM Supermalls, Victory Liner Incorporated, 2GoTravel, Canon Marketing Philippines, Campaigns and Grey, Leo Burnett Manila, the Makati Shangri-La Hotel plus Hyatt Hotel and Casino Manila. Earth Hour organizers wish to thank all groups and sectors for again showing leadership in observing the global phenomenon.
Concludes Ibay, “Earth Hour 2012 again showed that everyone can be part of the solution not just for one night, but beyond Earth Hour.” (Special Thanks to Aileen siwa for the photos)