, NOVEMBER 18, 2006 (STAR) By Delon Porcalla - Environmental watchdog group Greenpeace yesterday lit a solar-powered 12-foot Christmas tree at the House of Representatives, in an effort to persuade the Senate to pass the Renewable Energy Bill that congressmen had transmitted to them last September.

"As we all know, this bill has been languishing in the Senate and this has not been moving fast enough. We want to convey our wishes for the senators to fast-track its approval (by lighting this Christmas tree)," said campaign director Von Hernandez.

"Our society’s excessive preoccupation with politics is regrettably diverting us from acting on these major environmental trends now undermining our future. The passage of the RE bill is of paramount importance."

Reps. Nereus Acosta of Bukidnon and Lorenzo Tañada III, co-authors of the bill, joined the Christmas tree lighting, supporting the campaign for the use of renewable energy to combat climate change, which has been largely blamed on global warming.

"We should veer away from what is destructive. Even if we have clean air and water, we should also use renewable energy. It is our duty that we are able to care for our resources," said Acosta.

"We hope we could pass this bill before Congress goes on leave," Tañada said.

Hernandez likened the earth to a bus full of passengers "hurling towards a brick wall at breakneck speed."

"The obvious solution is not to accelerate in the hope the brick wall will disappear, but to apply the brakes and take a different course," he said.

"We are living in perilous times. The growing list of calamities associated with extreme weather events have now been linked to climate change. These are not exaggerated claims by environmental activists."

According to Hernandez, there is "already a global consensus among scientists that climate change has begun and human activities are to blame."

"We need to reverse these destructive trends," he said.

Jasper Inventor, climate and energy campaigner of Greenpeace, explained to The STAR that the 800 Christmas lights put in front of Congress’ session hall lobby can be lit up to a maximum of eight hours each day.

Its power comes from two solar power panels carrying 80 watts each (each panel costs P145,000), which shall be stored in four "deep cycle" batteries that go through an inverter that produces 220 volts of electricity.

Once the solar power has been consumed, Inventor said, there is a processor in the inverter that "automatically shifts" the solar power line back to the Meralco lines to avoid power interruption.

Thirty-two pupils from Multiple Intelligence International School in Quezon City joined the lighting ceremony. "I have been a witness to the drastic impact of climate change. The solution is staring us in our face — let us start using renewable energy," said Juan Lorenzo Armovit, 12.

On Tuesday, Greenpeace also featured a solar-powered café where actress Chin Chin Gutierrez, one of Time magazine’s Asian heroes in 2003, served coffee to members of the House of Representatives.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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