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Anna Mae Yu Lamentillo

Jan 19, 2024

How individual energy conservation efforts can save our planet

When we talk about the climate crisis and its catastrophic impacts; when we realize the magnitude of the problem, and how hard it is for countries to keep even their self-imposed commitments to climate change mitigation, it is easy to feel helpless as individuals — as if none of our individual actions would make a dent.

But this is also a matter of perspective. After all, it is our actions as humans that caused this global warming; thus, it is only our human actions, as well, that can save the planet and our future.

The agreements, strategies and solutions that world leaders, climate experts, scientists, activists, and organizations discuss during the annual climate conferences are crucial. However, we must realize that these talks are attended by less than a hundred thousand people (almost 86,000 attended in person and online at the COP28 in Dubai), not even one percent of the approximately eight billion people in the world.

So imagine if every adult individual commits to taking even just one conscious effort to conserve energy every single day, our collective actions will undoubtedly make a huge impact.

The Earth Hour is one concrete example of how individual actions put together results in impactful change.

This movement of switching off lights for one hour on a specific day in the month of March started in 2007, participated by more than 2.2 million individuals and 2,000 businesses in Sydney, Australia. Since then, the campaign has gone global with more countries participating in the event that is being organized by the WWF.

The Philippines first took part in the Earth Hour in 2008, and every year thereafter. In last year’s participation, we saved 62.69 megawatts (MW) of energy from turning off the lights for an hour, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).

But last year was not our best performance, because during Earth Hour 2022, we saved 65.32 MW; while in 2019, we saved 195.34 MW. This clearly shows the impact of individual actions — if each of us commits to the simple act of conserving energy, we can all greatly contribute to saving our planet.

Why energy conservation matters

According to the United Nations, the largest contributor to global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is the energy supply sector, as studies have shown that it accounts for 35 percent of global emissions.

Such is the case because a lot of countries still rely on fossil fuels for energy use, many of which are consumed in buildings and at home.

Energy efficiency at home can significantly contribute to reducing the global average individual carbon footprint from 6.3 tons in 2020 to 2.1 tons in 2030, according to the UN, which is why they have also come up with some ways to reduce energy usage at home.

We can significantly conserve energy by reducing heating and cooling use in our homes,as these systems require the most energy and considerably contributes to GHG emissions. Using LED light bulbs, switching to energy-efficient electric appliances, turning off unused lights, unplugging electric devices not in use, using cold water in the laundry, hanging things to dry instead of using a dryer, are all simple yet very effective ways to reduce energy consumption.

If you are going for maximum impact and have the budget, it is best to switch to renewable energy sources, such as solar panels. The UN says that switching to renewable energy, can help reduce our carbon footprint by up to 2.5 tons annually.

Whatever way we choose to start our individual journey to contributing to climate action, the most important thing we have to keep in mind is to be sincere and consistent with our efforts.

We need a change in mindset, a change in behavior. We cannot just wait for other people to act, because each one of us must be part of the solution.

We do not need to be climate experts to make an impact, we only need to be responsible human beings to know what actions we must take to save our planet, our only home.

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