With the Department of Transportation (DOTr) breaking ground on the Metro Manila Subway on Wednesday, Luntiang Pilipinas Party-list (Luntian) first nominee Michael Ubac said the country should invest more in efficient mass transport systems to substantially reduce the Philippines’ carbon emissions, especially in Metro Manila.

“We have to step up efforts to discourage the use of private cars, which contribute to carbon emissions that are not just bad for the environment, but also for the health of the public,” said Ubac.

The country’s first underground railway system, the Metro Manila Subway will be 36 kilometers long, with 15 stations from Quirino Highway in Quezon City to the NAIA Terminal 3 and FTI.

Hitting speeds of up to 80 kph, a trip from Quezon City to the NAIA is expected to reach only 31 minutes. The subway will be partially operational in 2022, and should be fully operational by 2025.

“Studies worldwide have shown that individual transport has the greatest impact where emission growth in cities is concerned.”

“Studies worldwide have shown that individual transport has the greatest impact where emission growth in cities is concerned, which is why governments all over the world are taking steps to dissuade their citizens from using their cars,” stressed Ubac.

Ubac explained that the country is currently ranked 82nd out of 180 countries in the 2018 Environmental Performance Index (EPI), but ranked 111th in terms of air quality.

The EPI is prepared by researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities together with the World Economic Forum. The report ranks 180 countries based on various performance indicators on ten issues regarding the health of the environment, and also provides a scale showing the performance of a particular country with regard to its environmental policies.

“Governments all over the world are taking steps to dissuade their citizens from using their cars.”

“According to the report, air quality remains a serious environmental problem due to increasing urbanization and industrialization in large countries such as India and China. But this is a concern we share because of our cities’ rapid development and our country’s steady economic growth,” added Ubac, a former journalist.

Ubac noted that the country has a law that upholds the right of every Filipino to clean and quality air by reducing air pollution from stationary and mobile sources. This law is the Clean Air Act, authored by Luntiang Pilipinas Movement founder Senator Loren Legarda.

The law calls for emission tests and phasing out of two-stroke engines. It fines owners and drivers of motor vehicles found to be violating emission standards. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) updated the emission limits from Euro 2 to Euro 4 emission standards and Euro 3 for motorcycles and tricycles.

Moreover, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 6.5 million deaths are caused by air pollution annually, making it the world’s largest environmental health risk.The air pollutant most closely linked to death and disease is particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter or PM2.5, which is emitted from motor vehicles, power plants, industrial processes, and the combustion of biomass, coal, and kerosene.

The safe level for PM2.5 is 10 micrograms per cubic meter of air in a year, but the recorded annual average of these pollutants in Manila—the most urbanized and densely populated city in the Philippines—is at 17 micrograms per cubic meter or 70 percent more than the recommended safe level.

“Given this, the adoption of mass transport systems should be a priority not just in Metro Manila, but in other developing urban areas in the country. These should be part of city planning, so that our towns can be proactive when it comes to keeping pollution levels to a minimum.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *