The countdown to the Biggest Hour on Earth is set for March 25 when millions of people across the world will converge around major world landmarks, cities, and communities to switch off their lights for 60 minutes – starting at 8:30 pm, as part of a global movement to save the planet.
In the Philippines, national landmarks, office buildings, government offices, and individual houses will all join in as a sign of a broader commitment towards addressing our planet’s sustainability this coming Saturday.
The Earth Hour global celebration started as a symbolic event in Sydney, Australia in 2007 and has grown into one of the world’s largest grassroots environmental movements spanning over 7,000 cities and 193 countries and territories. The Philippines joined in 2008, making this year’s Earth Hour the fifteenth time the celebration is observed.
Several community partners will also be participating in this year’s main Switch Off event in the Quezon City Memorial Circle: World Vision Philippines, Oxfam Pilipinas, Boy Scouts of the Philippines, Association of Young Environmental Journalists, and De La Salle University among others. Their participation demonstrates solidarity among fellow environment and development groups in coming together for a common cause to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental degradation.
As humanity’s unsustainable demands on the natural world are leading to climate breakdown, habitat loss, and decline of wildlife, Earth Hour is celebrated every year on the last Saturday of March as an opportunity to invite individuals and institutions to take substantive measures for the planet. The core message of this movement lies in going “Beyond the Hour” – essentially, the actions people can do after the lights go back on.
“This year’s Earth Hour is about the Biggest Hour for Earth – an hour wherein we begin to do good for our shared tomorrow and our shared home. As we face an uncertain future with our planet’s deteriorating biodiversity, further threatened by our changing climate, two of the biggest challenges we confront, we must act sooner and more decisively. Thus, we are reaching out to governments, cities, businesses, and individuals to be part of the solution in bringing positive changes for the planet,” said Atty. Angela Ibay, Climate and Energy Program Head of WWF-Philippines and Earth Hour Pilipinas National Director.
“The Philippines has repeatedly been on the top list of countries most vulnerable to climate change, and we are a mega-biodiverse country. Many do not realize that nature is our climate’s secret ally. We want Filipinos to not only appreciate what we have, but we also stand to lose. Thus, we all need to be responsible in shaping our future, and hopefully, we’ll be changing the ending for the positive – for both people and the planet,” Ibay said.
WWF-Philippines’ Earth Hour Ambassador Mikee Cojuangco-Jaworski shared what this movement means for everyone saying: “Having been an Earth Hour Ambassador for so long has taught me one important lesson, it is that there are always people who care regardless of their nationality, their social status, their job, or even their age.”
“There are so many people who care about the planet. We have to keep that in mind amid so much negativity. The fact that we are able to see each other again face-to-face after what seemed like an eternity being in lockdown shows that things can get better for the planet,” she said.
This year’s Earth Hour celebration in the Philippines will be the first in-person event since 2020 before lockdowns due to COVID-19 forced the celebration to go online. For a decade since its inception back in 2007, Earth Hour focused on building awareness of climate change. In 2018, the movement’s focus pivoted to include both climate and nature as their interconnectivity became more evident, with human activity causing direct negative impacts on nature and the environment, contributing to biodiversity loss and climate change.
While COVID-19 has prevented people from interacting in person, this has been an opportunity to connect to millions of people in digital spaces and engage with decision-making institutions to secure a new deal for nature with the aim of halting the loss of biodiversity by the end of the decade.
Quezon City has been a continuous partner of WWF-Philippines and Earth Hour for many years. Earth Hour was last held in Quezon City Circle in 2015. Quezon City was also a finalist in the recent One Planet Cities Challenge (OPCC) 2021-2022. OPCC is a friendly global competition initiated by WWF to recognize cities for their climate actions and ambitions and assess whether they align with the goals set forth in the Paris Agreement in limiting climate change to 1.5 °C.
“According to the UN, cities are responsible for over 70% of global carbon emissions. However, cities can also drive emission reduction efforts and transition to a carbon-neutral future. Recognizing the crucial role of cities in creating a sustainable future, Quezon City made a conscious and deliberate effort to address climate change from a local perspective,” said Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte.
“We enhanced our local climate change action plan (LCCAP), which outlines our efforts up to the year 2050 to reduce emissions and adapt to climate change. Integral to the development of the LCCAP was the conduct of a GHG emissions inventory, which allowed the city to measure and better understand the emissions contributed by different sectors. Based on the inventory, the stationary energy sector accounts for 60% of carbon emissions. This refers to fixed locations such as homes, buildings, and factories. Reducing emissions in this sector is critical. Hence, a combination of measures such as increasing the use of renewable energy sources and improving energy efficiency are our priority actions,” Belmonte added.
WWF-Philippines Executive Director Katherine Custodio highlighted the importance of the in-person gathering, stating: “Earth Hour has always been about individual actions that taken collectively makes a difference. By having an event like Earth Hour we are affirming the power of our individual simple action. We are affirming that people care about our shared future.”
“You may have heard the argument that the Philippines emits only 0.39% of GHG-so why should our country commit to further reduction. Well, if all the countries that account for less than a percent in total account for a third of global GHG. That is a big component. Please also remember that we are one of the most impacted by climate change – and if we don’t act who will?” she added.
March 25 will also be the start of the annual Earth Hour Virtual Run, a self-paced virtual run that aims to promote a sustainable and healthy lifestyle, raise environmental awareness, and support conservation efforts of WWF-Philippines. The run will last for a month up to April 22, wherein participants can choose their running distances from 10 km to 60 km. The registration started on February 3 and will end on April 9.
KD Montenegro, WWF-Philippines’ Individual Donor Program (IDP) Manager said that the continuing partnership with Pinoy Fitness for this year’s Earth Hour Virtual Run reflects the “sustained commitment and responsibility towards protecting the environment.”
“Because we are runners and into fitness, we understand that a healthy environment is necessary for us to have a healthy body. Pinoy Fitness provides this platform for Filipinos to stay fit and give back to the environment. We believe in going beyond Earth Hour and literally going the extra mile to ensure a healthy future for everyone,” she added.
Earth Hour 2023 is co-presented by Quezon City Government, together with our Official Communications and PR Partner, COMCO Mundo League of Enterprises, and supported by the Department of Energy, Climate Change Commission, League of Cities of the Philippines, League of Provinces of the Philippines, Department of Agriculture, Court of Appeals, Department of Health, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Department of Information and Communications Technology, National Historical Commission of the Philippines, and the National Parks Development Committee
Visit www.earthhour.org to learn more about events happening this Earth Hour around the world. Follow WWF-Philippines on social media for updates and events related to Earth Hour Philippines 2023. Lend your support to the environment with the official Earth Hour hashtags #EarthHour2023, #EarthHourPhilippines2023 and #BiggestHourForEarth.