Report by Teng Jingwei / Pictures by Damien Chng
Singapore marked its inaugural participation in Earth Hour on Saturday 28 March with a Green Carnival cum concert event at the Esplanade Park. Earth Hour, which was also being observed in other parts of the world, saw a turnout of a few hundred people. Families and friends gathered to have picnics on groundsheets, taking up the best spots around the stage. Tourists and passers-by were also attracted by the lights and sounds of the carnival.
They were entertained by performances which included an interpretive dance item by Down Syndrome Association Singapore, a Miss Earth eco-fashion show as well as local acoustic bands and singers. Radio personalities such as Brian Richmond and Hamish Brown shared personal “green tips” while engaging the crowd with their banter.
At 8.30pm the lights at the park and of nearby buildings like Suntec City Mall and even those at the construction sites for the Integrated Resort, were turned off for an hour. It was a symbolic statement on combating climate change and global warming. [Correction: The lights at the IR were not turned off. They were, ironically, very bright.]
The concert carried on while the venue was illuminated by candles brought by some of the participants. Volunteers from WWF Singapore were also seen distributing candles to the crowd.
Cindy Lee Lai Mun, a 44 year-old Administrative Officer found out about the event through her grassroots leaders. She commented that the event is “for a start, good for raising awareness and cultivating a ‘save the earth’ mentality”.
Indrani Barua, 32 year-old volunteer at WWF, feels that “a lot of people have taken a keen interest” in energy conservation because of the event.
While holding a carnival to conserve energy might seem ironic to some, The Online Citizen understands that The Green Carnival, which received good support from corporations and schools, was powered by generators using “green” biodiesel from 5pm until the blackout at 8.30pm. The biodiesel had been made from recycled waste cooking oil collected from more than 90 restaurants all over Singapore.
Several corporations and schools were present to raise awareness about their corporate social responsibility programmes on environmental sustainability.
Henderson Secondary School Environment Club presented a Micro-Wind Turbine installation purchased from Hong Kong University to power the LED lights in the school’s “green space” named NECO Garden. Wint Wah Kyaw, 17 year-old President of the club, impressed with her extensive discussion on the exploration of alternative sources of energy in Singapore. She hopes to promote student-monitored Micro-Wind Turbines to cluster schools.
Keith Ong, 27 year-old bassist with local band Reverie, said he was performing at the concert for “exposure, but also because it is very meaningful”.
Ms Carine Seror, Director of Corporate Responsibility WWF Singapore and campaign manager, said that she was overwhelmed by the response to the event. Ms Seror is optimistic that Earth Hour has a substantial impact on raising awareness over climate change. “If we can get Singaporeans excited about saving energy for one hour,” she said, “hopefully, we can get Singaporeans excited about saving energy every day.”
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) organised this global effort to make a statement on energy conservation. Organisations such as WWF; initiator for the event; Nature Society of Singapore, Singapore Scouts Association, Jane Goodall Institute and the environment co-curriculum societies of Henderson Secondary School and Woodgrove Secondary School were present to raise awareness on environmental sustainability. Other prominent corporations at the event included SingTel; main sponsor of the event; Phillips, Nokia, Coca-Cola and Starbucks Coffee.
Worldwide, this year’s event is much larger than in previous years with the participation of more countries across the globe.