Pedal power, PH Earth Hour shines light on climate action

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LIT UP. As the venue for the event, the Quezon City Memorial Circle is lit up for the event. Its lights go out for the main switch-off to show the city government’s support for climate action. Photo by Arby Medina/Rappler
The Earth Hour 2016 event in the Philippines went dark ‘to shine light on climate action’ which involves individual pledges and support for the country’s shift to sustainable energy

MANILA, Philippines (Mar. 20, 2016) — Lights shine brightest in times of darkness.

This is the call to action of Earth Hour 2016: “Go shine light on climate change action.” This year’s Earth Hour put the spotlight on what people can do to help battle climate change.

Earth Hour went beyond the yearly scheduled black outs by putting people on their feet – or, to be more accurate, on their seats.

On March 19, 2016 from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm, cyclists powered the World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) Earth Hour event held at the Quezon City Memorial Circle.

“Filipino youth are being called to lead and act because there is no other time to do it, but now,” said Commissioner Dingdong Dantes of the National Youth Commission.

“We do not want the dreams of the future generation to drown with the threats to climate change,” stressed Dantes, who leads the #NowPH movement.

Simple changes

Zie and Ska were two cyclists who came out for Earth Hour 2016. When asked about what they do on normal days to combat climate change they responded simply with “nag-bike kami instead of taking a jeep” (We ride bikes instead of taking a jeep).

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INDIVIDUAL PLEDGES. Zie and Ska, two cyclists, are reducing their carbon footprint by using their bikes instead of riding jeeps to get around. Photo by Arby Medina/Rappler

For the WWF, small acts like these contribute to the everyday battle against the effects of climate change.

When asked what non-cyclists can do to help improve the situation of the environment, Zie answered in Filipino, “They can learn.” For people like Zie and Ska, because a problem like climate change is caused by the accumulation of small problems over the years, it can be alleviated with simple changes.

Some suggestions from the WWF are:

  • Setting thermostats to 25 degrees Celsius
  • Avoiding overcharging gadgets
  • Using public transportation
  • Bringing reusable canvas bags when shopping
  • Avoiding food waste

“The Earth Hour is still a huge undertaking for us. We’re reducing our paper. We’re reducing flyers. We’re just doing it through word of mouth, through the Internet. Obviously, since this is about reducing our waste and carbon footprint, we must abide by that,” WWF-Philippines ambassador Rovilson Fernandez said.

Fernandez, who hosted the event with fellow WWF ambassador Marc Nelson, said that observing the annual event should go beyond the hour.

“Don’t just do this symbolically. Let it go beyond that.”

Other than promoting individual pledges for climate action, the organizers used the event to promote sustainable energy. Bicycles hooked up to batteries powered the event when the lights went out.

Pedal power

Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista joined Dantes and other volunteers in supplying the “pedal power.”

Electric vehicles like eJeepneys have been gaining traction in the country. Some environment advocates and entrepreneurs see them as the next step in Philippine transportation.

This year is the 8th year the Philippines is participating in Earth Hour. When it joined in 2008, it became the first Asian country to do so. It has since then received the title Earth Hour Hero Country 4 times in a row, from 2009 to 2013.

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EARTH HOUR IN MANILA. A boy plays with available light from an amusement park ride during Earth Hour in Pasay City, Philippines, 19 March 2016. Mark R. Cristino/EPA

‘Climate change is real’

During his acceptance speech, Leonardo DiCaprio, who serves on WWF’s board, chose to talk about an issue bigger than the 13. 5-inch statues he had been chasing for years.

“Climate change is real. It is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.”

Climate change is no longer as abstract as an overflowing glass of ice water. The menace that is climate change has escalated and now threatens ASEAN food security.

It is here, and humans contribute to it. But all is not lost – if certain human activities are the cause, then human activity can also be the solution.

The threat of climate change is here. There is no better time to act than now. What will you do to help combat climate change?


  by Arby Medina | Rappler.com