As the world observes the annual Earth Hour event on March 26, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Acting Secretary Jim O. Sampulna urged Filipinos to go beyond the symbolic switching off of lights for an hour by making environmental stewardship a part of their “new normal” lifestyle.
“Apart from safeguarding ourselves from the COVID-19 virus under the new normal, let us also create a norm that puts our planet and, ultimately, our people first. Sustainability should already be a lifestyle and a common goal for each Filipino,” Sampulna said.
The Philippines submitted on April 2021 its Nationally Determined Contribution to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change where the country pledged a projected greenhouse gas emissions reduction and avoidance of 75 percent, of which 2.71 percent is unconditional and 72.29 percent conditional, for the period 2020-2030.
Sampulna emphasized that this “ambitious goal” cannot be achieved with the government doing the work alone and if people continue their unsustainable practices that significantly harm nature.
To combat some of the country’s pressing environmental challenges, Sampulna committed to pursue the enforcement of the country’s environmental laws like the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999, and Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004.
Under his leadership, the DENR will also continue to strengthen its National Greening Program while protecting 8.7 million hectares of forests and conserving the country’s protected areas and biodiversity of terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
“Climate change is no longer a foreign term for all of us. With all the typhoons and disasters we have experienced in the past, I hope that Filipinos are already conscious and responsible towards taking care of the environment,” Sampulna said.
He also cited the importance of collective individual actions to combat climate change by encouraging Filipinos to use bicycles and mass transport vehicles, and to carpool to go to places amid the current local fuel price hike in the country.
Sampulna also reminded the public to conserve water, especially during the dry season.
Moreover, for the next elections, he encouraged Filipino voters to choose leaders who will prioritize climate change mitigation.
“Apart from these, individuals can contribute in saving the planet by eating more sustainably, not wasting food, reducing plastic usage, being energy-sufficient, being a conscious consumer, being supportive of the government’s environmental programs, being environmental ambassadors in their sphere of influence,” he said.
Sampulna urged Filipinos to take part in the Earth Hour event on March 26 by switching off computers, television sets, air conditioning units, and non-essential lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The Earth Hour movement, which is organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature, started in Sydney, Australia in 2007 and has become an annual symbolic action around the world, spreading to over 7,000 cities and 180 countries and territories. #