Monday, March 28, 2011

1554 Cities and Towns in the Philippines joins the Switch Off for Earth Hour 2011

When the clock struck 8:30PM last night, the Philippines was again engulfed in 60 minutes of darkness. A record-breaking 1554 Filipino towns, cities and municipalities joined the rest of the world in taking a stand against climate change. Reinvigorated by its new ‘60+’ logo, Earth Hour 2011 aimed to make its effects felt not for a mere 60 minutes – but for an entire year. Organizers are elated by the immense outpouring of support from the government, private corporations and individuals.

Since 2008, Earth Hour Philippines has celebrated climate change solutions, ranking number one globally in terms of town and city participation for both 2009 and 2010. 1076 cities and municipalities switched off in 2010, while 647 population hubs did so in 2009. About 50 cities and towns switched off during the country’s inaugural Earth Hour observance in 2008.

Ten million Filipinos saved at least 611MWh of electricity during the 2009 switch-off alone – equivalent to a temporary shutdown of a dozen coal-fired power-plants. This year’s switch-off exceeded 2010 figures by 478 towns and cities. “We are elated to clinch the top spot for the third year in a row,” beams Earth Hour National Director Atty. Gia Ibay. “More than the numbers though, Earth Hour espouses the importance of our actions beyond the hour.”

“This year’s switch-off merely signifies the start of a yearlong pledge to minimize our ecological impacts and to do our bit for a more sustainable planet. These sustainable-living pledges can take many forms, from upgrading to energy-efficient appliances to choosing to bike to work every day. Pledges really depend on the individuals – who can personally assess what changes they can adopt to reduce their consumption of electricity and water.”

A record 131 countries and territories took part in Earth Hour 2011. Numerous global organisations joined nearly a billion people across all continents to heed the hour. “It is only through the collective action of business, organisations, individuals, communities and governments that we will be able to affect change on the scale required to address the environmental challenges we face,” says Earth Hour Global Co-Founder and Executive Director Andy Ridley.

Thousands of people gathered at the main switch-off ceremony, held at the SM Mall of Asia grounds. Says Philippine Climate Change Commissioner Lucille Sering, “Our collective effort today shows another kind of people power - where different colours and sizes meet - a force so strong that it can make all things move. Tonight’s switch-off is a strong move towards a healthy, safe and climate-resilient nation.”

Earth Hour Philippines is a yearly effort of WWF-Philippines and its allies in the public and private sector. 2011 partners include the Yuchengco Group of Companies, Coca-Cola under its Live Positively Platform, Honda Cars Philippines, McDonald’s, Meralco, SM Supermalls, Discovery Suites, Smart Communications, Philips and Canon.

Media allies have grown to include ABS-CBN, TV5, GMA-7, Net-25, Solar TV, CLTV-36, Discovery Channel, AXN, AXN Beyond, Animax, National Geographic Channel, Lifestyle Network, BTV, Knowledge Channel, Solar Sports, Solar TV, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Philippine Star, BusinessMirror, Expat, Aftercall Magazine, Mega Publishing Group, Metro Magazine, Metro Society, Experience Travel and Living, Radyo Veritas, Globaltronics, QCreativs,, and numerous other stations and publications.

Public allies include the Philippine Climate Change Commission, Department of Energy, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of Education, Department of Interior and Local Government, Department of Transportation and Communications, League of Cities of the Philippines, League of Municipalities of the Philippines and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority.

"Climate change presents us with an opportunity to make the Philippines a better nation, because addressing its impacts means we have to change the way we chart our journey. Earth Hour serves as a reminder of this opportunity, and beyond that hour, we continue to strive to make a difference," adds Philippine Climate Change Commissioner and former Earth Hour Philippines Head Yeb SaƱo.

Earth Hour 2011 has garnered international support from global companies and organisations as diverse as: Nokia, PWC, FIFA, the International Olympic Committee, Canon, Baidu, Naver, National Geographic Channel Asia, Bloomberg, Starcom, Mindshare Pocoyo, Clearchannel, Credit Suisse AG, Coca Cola, IKEA, Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Hostel World and CB Richard Ellis.

“Earth Hour Philippines 2011 was our biggest so far and is a resounding success,” concludes Ibay. “It is a brilliant example of public and private sector collaboration and a true celebration of climate solutions.” Rough estimates peg that at the very least, over 15 million Filipinos joined this year’s switch-off. Earth Hour organizers wish to thank all groups and sectors for again showing leadership in observing the global phenomenon.

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