By Johannes L. Chua
If there’s any good that the enhanced home quarantine will result to, aside from minimizing the spread of Covid-19, is that the planet took a “break”—less cars, buses, and tricycles on the road means lesser air pollution; less human activities means lesser burden on the planet as carbon footprint is minimized, too.
More than ever, the pandemic showed the importance of sustainability—that people need a cleaner environment to thrive as shown with the importance of sanitizing one’s home and practicing the habit of handwashing. People now realize that a cleaner, more sustainable planet is not a dream, but an achievable reality as long as everyone is doing their part.
Earth Hour 2020, set to be held Saturday at 8:30 p.m. in the country, is part of a global movement that saw important landmarks, buildings, offices, and homes go dark for an hour to highlight various important environmental issues. This year, it calls on Filipinos to switch off their lights at home for an hour, in a collective movement to showcase the #ChangeTheEnding campaign of the World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines (WWF-PH).
“WWF-Philippines actually decided to do a digital campaign for Earth Hour even before the COVID-19 pandemic. We are encouraging everyone to take part in the comfort and safety of their own home. Earth Hour is more than just an event; it is a movement that encourages people to raise their own voice for nature and do their part in reversing environmental degradation,” said WWF-PH Earth Hour Pilipinas national director Atty. Angela Ibay.
Since the first “lights out” event was held in Sydney in 2007, the movement has continued to bring together individuals, businesses, and governments in joint acts of commitment toward a future of environmental integrity and where man lives in harmony with nature.
This year, the movement will be inviting millions of supporters to showcase their support online through Voice for the Planet. These e-signatures will then be presented at international forums such as the United Nations General Assembly, to help secure a “New Deal for Nature” that addresses nature loss and environmental decline in order to safeguard our shared futures.
“We want to be able to use Earth Hour to galvanize people, to bring our messages forward – that our own actions have an effect on our planet, and that our own actions are also the solution that will be able to provide for us and for our shared home,” added Ibay. WWF-PH has shared Earth Hour’s messages of conservation with the rest of the country since the organization held its first switch-off event in 2008.
“There’s this whole digital space that we haven’t fully maximized yet. So, Earth Hour, in a lot of countries, is going online this year,” she said.
In response to the growing need for environmental action, WWF-PH is using this year’s celebration as an opportunity to launch its newest campaign. Entitled #ChangeTheEnding, it shows the public that there are current realities that must be dealt with, and that there are certain, precarious scenarios of environmental collapse and human suffering that could occur if nothing is done.
“Changes in rain patterns, for example, coupled with the Philippines’ increasing population could result in severe water shortages before the year 2030 if comprehensive and immediate action is not undertaken today. The campaign reminds the public that in spite of current trends, we can still change the ending if we start acting now,” said Ibay.
Businesses, local governments, and individuals are being asked to help combat these issues however they can, with the campaign stressing the need for us to go beyond mere commitments and to start performing actions for the planet.
“Take part in Earth Hour 2020 from your own homes through actions as simple as switching off lights for an hour to switching off non-essential lights for the night,” said Ibay. “For those looking to take part in the Earth Hour 2020 activities, WWF-PH is requesting for content to be shared using the #EarthHourPH2020, #Connect2Earth, and #ChangeTheEnding hashtags. The organization will be sharing this content, together with the #ChangeTheEnding campaign video, as a display of the Philippines’ joint commitment to the protection of the natural world.”
In the past decade, Earth Hour has inspired global participation in critical climate and environmental initiatives, helping drive awareness and, in turn, action and policy change. Among its highlights, the movement has helped in the creation of a 3.5 million-hectare marine-protected area in Argentina, a 2,700-hectare Earth Hour forest in Uganda, and helped pass new legislation for the protection of seas and forests in Russia. Last year, WWF-Ecuador pushed for a law to ban the use of plastic bags, other single-use plastic, and Styrofoam products in the capital, while WWF-Indonesia initiated the planting of 20,000 mangrove seedlings in 13 cities.