Paje: An Hour of Voluntary Darkness to Tame Climate Change

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Environment Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje has urged Filipinos to join millions around the world in marking Earth Hour by switching off the lights in support of a global campaign to combat climate change, which has been cited as possible culprit behind mega-storms like Yolanda.

Paje said the country’s experience with Yolanda gives every citizen more reason to take part in the observance of Earth Hour on March 29 from 8:30 to 9:30 in the evening.

“The overwhelming devastation wrought by super typhoon Yolanda serves to remind us that climate change is a serious issue that we can’t simply ignore and a global event such as Earth Hour is a valuable tool to raise awareness of climate change and environmental issues,” Paje said.

Dubbed as the single, largest, symbolic mass participation event in the world, Earth Hour is held every last Saturday of March on the initiative of the Washington-based environmental group World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).  Those participating in Earth Hour will shut off all lights and used appliances and electronics in support of efforts to solve the problems related to climate change and global warming.

“An hour of voluntary darkness will help us tame climate change,” Paje said.

Since it first joined the event in 2009, the Philippines has consistently registered the most number of participating towns and cities, earning the distinction as an “Earth Hour Hero Country.”

This year, the country was chosen as one of the beneficiaries of the first ever “Earth Hour Blue,” an international crowd-funding and crowd-sourcing effort initiated by the WWF that aims to provide bancas for Yolanda victims.

Under the project, coastal communities affected by the super typhoon would be provided with resources to build new and efficient non-motorized boats with fiberglass-reinforced plastic hulls.  The construction of the first 60 boats is expected to be completed by mid-April.

Paje lauded the project for using a technology that is earth-friendly as it eliminates the need to use wood sourced from forests.

“The project will leave no carbon footprint and will encourage fisherfolk to engage in sustainable small-scale fishing,” he said.

Earth Hour started in 2007 in Sydney, Australia when 2.2 million residents switch off the lights of their homes and offices in order to pledge their support to saving the environment. The trend soon caught on and several other countries participated across the globe in the initiative. At present, there are more than 150 countries that actively observe Earth Hour every year.

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