By DCM Kurt Tong
April 22 - Like many of you, I will be observing Earth Day this Sunday, April 22. The first Earth Day - on April 22, 1970 - was the birth of the modern environmental movement. Today, more than 1 billion people in 192 countries participate in Earth Day activities.
Do you know that Earth Day Network (EDN) has a campaign called A Billion Acts of Green? From switching off a light to planting a tree, each "act of green" by a group or individual reduces the impact we have on the environment and brings us closer to a more sustainable future. EDN aims to have 1 billion actions registered in advance of the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012.
Here in Tokyo, we are encouraging our staff to individually pledge their own "acts of green." I have been walking to work a few days a week, and I have pledged to increase this to at least four days a week. My boss, Ambassador Roos, is showing his support by walking to several of his meetings this week. I encourage you to join us by registering your personal acts of green on the Earth Day website at http://act.earthday.org.
Tokyo is a very walkable city.
I am also proud of our efforts to make the whole Embassy more green. We have been practicing "Cool Biz" for many summers now. Last summer, due to the lower electricity supply, we cut the Embassy's electricity consumption by over 15 percent.
We plan to do our part again this summer. To reduce our carbon footprint, we added one all-electric and two hybrid vehicles to our motor pool. And we have converted 15 percent of the lighting in Embassy to energy-saving compact fluorescent and LED lights, with plans to replace the rest in the future.
To learn more about Earth Day 2012 and other ways you can get involved, please go to www.earthday.org/2012.
Until next time!