Senator Sonny Angara has called on the Filipino youth to be “environment warriors” even as he urged the entire nation to participate in the “Earth Hour” to be held today, March 25, and appealed for a wide unity in protecting and saving the planet from environment plunderers.
“Earth Hour” is an annual global environmental event aimed at encouraging individuals, communities, households and businesses to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour, from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on the last Saturday of March, as a symbol of their commitment to the planet.
“Earth Hour is more than just how much energy is saved when we switch off our lights for one hour. It is about inspiring people to unite against the destruction of the environment and climate change,” Angara stressed.
This year’s Earth Hour switch-off event will be held on March 25 from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., with the celebration focusing on the youth’s role as future climate leaders.
“The increasing environment and climate change awareness among our youth is noticeable. Our youth should lead in taking concrete actions to save the environment, which is now on the verge of massive destruction because of unscrupulous people who wantonly, and with impunity, destroy and pollute our environment for their interests,” he said.
Angara encouraged the youth to use the social media to propagate environment protection even as urged other sectors to conduct continuous clean up drive to rid communities of pollutant waste materials.
“Why not make use of the social media since our young generation is very much into it? I-post dapat ng mga kabataan ang mga impormasyon tungkol sa kung paano poprotektahan ang kalikasan at pati ang climate change. Yung mga nakatatanda na hindi marunong sa social media, eh pwede naming maglinis ng kapaligiran at huwag gumamit ng mga bagay na pollutants,” he said.
In 2015, Angara had filed a resolution reaffirming the support of the Senate to the objectives and goals of Earth Hour and Earth Day, as well as encourages the Filipino people to observe and participate in the worldwide Earth Hour activity.
“Our participation in the yearly pro-earth event is one way of showing that the Filipinos firmly stand with the rest of the world regarding issues facing the planet and climate change,” the lawmaker said.
The senator has agreed with the network’s goal “to build a global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change and aware of its unprecedented threat to our planet” and “to empower everyone with the knowledge to inspire action in defense of environmental protection.”
“We should empower our people, especially the youth, with the knowledge on climate change. And they should use this knowledge in convincing the government, policymakers, legislators and nongovernment organizations to come up with measures that will address climate change and save and protect mother nature,” he said.
The Philippines has been participating in the annual Earth Hour since 2009, and has earned the title of “Earth Hour Hero Country” from 2009 to 2013 for topping participation records with over 15 million Filipinos joining the event.
Through the support of the Department of Interior and Local Government, the Leagues of Municipalities, Cities, and Provinces, the Metro Manila Development Authority, and other government partners, Earth Hour in the Philippines has always been a success with each year witnesses a growing multi-sectoral support system, proving that more and more Filipinos believe in the message of Earth Hour.
“Our support for Earth Hour and Earth Day should not waver. I call on the public to show once again to the world our solid support to the campaign against climate change. More importantly, we must go beyond one hour in showing our commitment to the planet by taking accountability for our ecological footprint and engaging in dialogue and resource exchange to provide real solutions to our environmental challenges,” Angara said.
This year’s celebration comes in as President Duterte signed the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change.
The historic climate pact would cap greenhouse gas emissions, pursue the global development of renewable energy, and aid climate vulnerable countries to mitigate the harmful effects of climate change.
To date, 133 countries of the 197 parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change have ratified the Paris accord.
In the 16th Congress, Angara, as acting chair of the Senate labor committee, sponsored and championed in the Senate plenary the Green Jobs Act, which eventually enacted into law as Republic Act 10771, which granted incentives to companies generating “green jobs” or jobs that contribute substantially to the preservation and restoration of the environment and natural resources.
The Philippines was named the top country most affected by climate change in 2013 by the environmental organization German Watch in its recent study, the 2015 Global Climate Risk Index. It was followed by Cambodia, India and Mexico in the list of countries most affected by weather-related disasters such as storms, floods, and heat waves.
Angara noted that based on the EM-DAT International Disaster Database by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, from 2010 to 2014 alone, the total economic damage suffered by the Philippines from natural disasters also ballooned to more than US$14 billion or P626 billion from US$1.7 billion or P76 billion during the period from 2000 to 2009.
He said the same international database showed that the number of recorded deaths in the country due to natural disasters went up from roughly 7,000 between 2000 and 2009 to 12,000 between 2010 and 2014.