Earth Hour 2016: Give Mother Earth a break, switch off power for an hour

MANILA — Climate Change Commission Secretary Emmanuel De Guzman urged the public to observe the annual Earth Hour awareness campaign celebrated across the globe on March 19.

“Nature has been working hard for the benefit of mankind for hundreds of years now. If people need to rest after a week of working, isn’t it only just that we give Mother Earth a break from all carbon dioxide emissions and other human activities that cause global warming for at least one hour?” De Guzman said on Friday.

Since 2009, the Philippines has been actively participating in the Earth Hour, which uses the simple action of turning off electricity for 60 minutes.

The awareness campaign, initiated by the World Wildlife Fund, brings together the international community for the single biggest collective effort aimed at limiting global warming.

“When we turn off the lights and participate in other activities to preserve our environment, we allow Mother Earth to breathe. She has taken in so much of the carbon dioxide emissions, the dirty air. We need to give Mother Earth a break even for an hour and as much as we can,” De Guzman said.

Carbon dioxide emissions, which come from human activities such as burning of fossil fuels like coal, natural gas and oil for electricity and transportation, as well as deforestation, trigger global warming and lead to climate change.

Climate change has fueled extreme weather events in the past years, posing a serious threat to food supply, water, health, livelihood and infrastructure worldwide.

Various science-based studies have linked the emergence of new infectious diseases, destruction of the ecosystem, super typhoons, droughts, floods and mudslides, and the unusual rise in sea levels to climate change.

The Philippines has topped the list of countries which had the most number of weather-related major occurrences due to climate change, with 328 events from 1994-2013.

“Everybody must take part in activities such as the Earth Hour because the power to reduce our vulnerability to climate change is in our own hands. It is about time for us people to undo the harmful things we have done to our environment,” De Guzman said.

“For a brief moment, we offer a sacrifice for Mother Earth who has been suffering because of our carbon footprint or human activities that emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, including extractive and exploitative activities with our natural resources. There is no individual act that is too small because if we do it together, collectively we can help bring about a better future for our children and our world,” he added.

To sustain the campaign in bringing down carbon footprint around the world, a total of 196 countries, including the Philippines, have approved a new and legally binding climate change deal in France last December.

Called the Paris Agreement, it prompts developed and developing countries to limit global temperature “well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.”

In the Philippines, the government plans to attain this through its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) Roadmap, which will then be integrated in various levels such as the Philippine Development Plan, Philippine Energy Plan, Local Climate Change Action Plan and Comprehensive Development Plans, among others. PNA /