Filipinos join the global observance of Earth Hour tonight as the country prepares for the Paris climate deal, which will take effect next month. International participation in the hour-long switch-off of non-essential lights has grown exponentially since the first event was staged in Sydney, Australia 10 years ago this month.
President Duterte, who had initially criticized the Paris climate deal, eventually signed the agreement, with the Senate giving its concurrence before going on a break. With experts stressing that the Philippines is among the most vulnerable to global warming, the nation has much at stake in pursuing its commitments to reduce its carbon footprint.
Switching off lights during Earth Hour is meant not so much to save energy, although a lot has been saved over the past decade, but to show commitment to decisive action in confronting global warming. From 2009 to 2012, the Philippines topped global participation in the annual switch-off, earning the honor of being named Earth Hour Hero Country.
The World Wide Fund for Nature wants this year’s switch-off from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. to “shine a light on climate action.” From just 35 countries participating in the first global event in 2008, a record 178 countries joined Earth Hour 2016. In the Philippines, this year’s focus is on galvanizing the youth to serve as tomorrow’s climate champions. Today’s main event, to be held at SM by the Bay at the Mall of Asia, will be from 7 to 10 p.m.
Supporters of Earth Hour go beyond the hour-long switch-off, financing projects to encourage the use of green energy, promote climate resilience and lobby for more climate-friendly laws and policies. Providing climate-smart boats to survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda or fuel-efficient stoves in Madagascar may not seem like much. In confronting climate change, however, no action is too insignificant.