Filipinos urged to switch off lights 8:30-9:30pm on March 28

Reference: Mr. Yeb Saño, Earth Hour Philippines 2009 Secretariat, +6328402134, +6328125974, Patricia Daza, 09189081311

The lights will go off for one hour on March 28, starting at 8:30 pm in key cities in the Philippines and all over the world. This is called Earth Hour.

The lights-out initiative, which began in Sydney in 2007 as a one-city environmental campaign, has evolved into a grassroots action that has attracted worldwide attention. In 2008, 371 cities across 35 countries turned their lights out in a united call for action on climate change and energy conservation.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) is joining hands with the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Green Army Philippines Network to spread public awareness of the Earth Hour message to cities and communities all over the country.

“2009 is a destiny year for the entire planet,” declared Lory Tan, President and CEO of WWF-Philippines. “This is the year that we decide the future of humanity. Earth Hour is a message of hope and action and we hope it sends a powerful message to both local and world leaders. It is a global movement that proves that each one of us can make a difference. Imagine what we can do if we act together.”

Recognizing the vital role of the energy community—particularly in terms of sustainable electric power generation, clean transport fuels, and best energy practices across sectors—DOE Secretary Angelo T. Reyes expressed full support for Earth Hour. “This grassroots initiative is an opportunity for individuals from all corners of the globe to unite and, in a single voice, make it known that their collective action can correct the precarious trajectory of the planet,” he said. “This is a cause that should unite us as Filipinos and as citizens of the world.”

To build on the powerful symbolic value of Earth Hour, Secretary Reyes explained that top-tier corporate sponsorships by national partners will be linked to initiatives of the SWITCH Movement, the social mobilization platform of multi-sector energy stakeholders spawned by the 2008 Philippine Energy Summit. These initiatives cover community-level switches to efficient lighting; cleaner transport fuels and technologies for jeepneys and tricycles; and area-based renewable energy (RE) groundwork-setting and promotion.

“We are positioning Earth Hour 2009 among potential national partners not as a one-time event but as window to longer-term involvement in climate change response and sustainable energy programs,” he said. “Through this alignment with SWITCH, we have the opportunity to use the switch-off as a springboard to highlight the urgent need for dramatic lifestyle changes and best energy practices to save our planet.”

“We fully support Earth Hour 2009, and urge companies, non-governmental organizations and communities in our network to take advantage of this opportunity to promote more efficient energy practices and technologies,” remarked Ambassador Francis Chua, Chairman of the Green Army.

Last year, Earth Hour realized savings of 56 MWH of electric power in Luzon and16 MWH in Metro Manila, equivalent to the output of a small coal-fired power plant. An estimated one million Filipinos were involved. Over 400 establishments participated by turning off their signs and non-essential lights. In Manila, Roxas Boulevard became the focal point of the celebration since it cuts across the cities of Manila, Pasay, and Paranaque, but Quezon City, Makati, and Mandaluyong also joined in the energy efficiency-promoting activity.

Earth Hour 2009 aims to reach one billion people in 1,000 cities all over the world. To help reach this goal, a global sign-up campaign and competition is again being launched worldwide. Last year, the Philippines ranked 9th in terms of total sign-ups. All Filipinos are urged to sign up at Earth Hour’s global website: Earth Hour Philippines 2009 hopes to involve 10 million Filipinos and 500 businesses in key cities across the country.

To receive news updates and event schedules, one can register one’s cellphone number by sending the following message to 5777 for both Smart and Globe users: green <space> reg <space> firstname <slash> middleinitial <slash> lastname. Example: green reg Juan/C/De la Cruz.

WWF, the DOE, the Green Army, and the SWITCH movement are inviting all public and private sector groups to take part in this year’s Earth Hour. “Efficiency in energy use in the light of global warming is an issue that cuts across all sectors,” Sec. Reyes stressed. He pointed out recent developments in the energy sector such as the passage of the Renewable Energy Act that should facilitate a gradual shift to “green” energy technologies: “This should encourage power companies to now use the wind, the sun, and the ocean waves to generate our electricity.”

“Through Earth Hour 2009, we hope to send a powerful message to world leaders in the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference Copenhagen 2009,” WWF’s Lory Tan said. “We need a commitment to actions that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions for the short- and long-term benefit of the planet in order to avert widespread disastrous impacts, especially in developing countries like the Philippines.”

Taking the first step is as easy as turning off a light.

Background Information for Editors

The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) was established in 1961 by a few eminent gentlemen who were worried by what they saw happening in the world. Since then, the WWF has grown into one of the largest environmental organizations, with currently more than 1,300 conservation projects underway in various countries, including the Philippines. Mostly focusing on local issues, these WWF-supported projects range from school nature gardens in Zambia, to advocacy initiatives that appear in the packaging of commercial merchandise, from the restoration of orangutan habitats to the establishment of giant panda reserves. WWF works through multi-sector partnerships at the global and local levels. (Reference: Mr. Yeb Saño, +639178079089)

The Department of Energy (DOE) is mandated by Republic Act 7638 to prepare, integrate, coordinate, supervise and control all plans, programs, projects and activities of the Government relative to energy exploration, development, utilization, distribution and conservation. In partnership with other energy stakeholders, it seeks to improve the quality of life of the Filipino by formulating and implementing policies and programs to ensure sustainable, stable, secure, sufficient, accessible and reasonably-priced energy. The DOE is committed to pursue national development through the two-fold agenda of attaining energy independence and implementing power market reforms. (Reference: Ms. Pat Daza Planas +639189081311; Mr. Prime Berunia +639173274316)

The Green Army Philippines Network Foundation Inc. envisions a healed planet with people living in harmony with all of creation. In line with this vision, the Green Army undertakes projects – like its “Trees for Life” replanting program – that promote responsible stewardship through integrated local action for environmental protection, conservation, and restoration. A launching base for green initiatives requiring widespread social mobilization, the Green Army collaborates with government agencies, the church, the private sector, the academe, and civil society in protecting and nurturing the environment. It focuses on projects that would help communities empower themselves through their concerted action. (Reference: Ms. Nicole Paterno, +639173546069)

SWITCH is a social mobilization movement, spawned by the 2008 Philippine Energy Summit, which seeks to demonstrate how ordinary Filipinos and specific sectors of Philippine society can contribute substantively—through fundamental changes in lifestyle, behavior or standard practices—to the massive effort needed to address the dire consequences of unstable oil prices and climate change. Launched in July 2008, SWITCH is designed to: a) make energy programs of both the government and the private sector more participative for better appreciation, acceptance and involvement among key stakeholders; b) accelerate and scale up the adoption of best energy practices that are simple but strategic; and c) lay the institutional foundation to sustain best energy practices on the ground. (Reference: Ms. Cates Maceda +639175070123)