QUEZON CITY, Philippines — Measures to improve air quality in the Philippines are among the priority agenda at the ongoing 8th Annual Clean Air forum of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
The discussion points to vehicle emission as the leading factor that contributes 69% to the country’s air pollution.
90% of which comes from Metro Manila.
Based on records of DENR, the current rate of air pollution has declined by about 20%.
However, it is still more than the allowable level stated in the Clean Air Act.
Based on records of the Land Transportation Office, more than 6,000 vehicles have been added on the road from 2012 to 2014.
“It [pollution] worsens because the number of vehicle is increasing; the population is growing; the roads are getting congested and structures are getting higher. These are some factors why air pollution remains on the ground and not dispersing,” explained Rene Pineda, Partnership for Clean Air president.
In 2013, more than three million developed respiratory diseases due to air pollution but the number has lowered by 29% in the past 3 years.
“It aggravates the respiratory diseases like asthma. And it allegedly cause pregnancy defects,” said Eva Ocfemia, Assistant Director of Environmental Management Bureau – DENR.
The government is now penalizing violators of Clean Air Act through the no-contact anti-smoke belching operation. As of today, the government has apprehended almost 9,000 firms for failing the emission standards and for operating without proper permits.
DENR advised to use cleaner fuel to lessen pollution.
“The Euro2 fuel that we use has 500ppm in terms of sulfur dioxide emission. If we use Euro4 it further downgrades emission level to 50ppm only,” Ocfemia said.
The public may also contribute in reducing air pollution by not smoking, by walking or using bicycle for short distances or riding the mass transport system.
It is also better to recycle your garbage instead of burning it.
(REY PELAYO/UNTV NEWS)
Paris goes car-free a day as city fights against pollution
All the streets in Paris were car-free on Sunday as part of Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s fight against air pollution, allowing families and tourists to wander on the roads around landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower and Champs Elysees for the third year in a row.
In spite of the rain, thousands of walkers, joggers, and cyclists reigned supreme on the car-free Champs Elysees avenue, which is typically a major east-west thoroughfare for one of Paris’ swankiest neighborhoods, running from the Place de la Concorde to the Arc de Triomphe.
“It is fantastic. I wish it could happen every day, it really is, it’s amazing. I cycle all over Paris but you take your life into your own hands and so today is a luxury, it’s a gift, it’s wonderful,” said Philip Brooker, a Paris resident.
Parisians were encouraged to use non-motorized vehicles since only vehicles for disabled people, taxis and public transport was authorized to circulate between nine in the morning to six in the evening.
“It’s true that it is a good initiative, but it might not be practical for everyone either. Personally, it doesn’t bother me at all,” said Bernard Bachellez, a motorist.
“This is fantastic to be here on this day and to walk in here and see so many people that would use it as it is,” said Murray, a tourist from Perth.
Sunday’s car-free day is part of a series of environmentally friendly moves by socialist Mayor Hidalgo after several episodes of oppressive smog in Paris over the years. — Reuters
Oppositors to DENR Sec. Roy Cimatu’s appointment face CA
MANILA, Philippines — Manny Galvez, of the Coalition of Clean Air Advocates has expressed opposition to the appointment of Roy Cimatu as the Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) during Wednesday’s confirmation hearing of the Commission on Appointments (CA).
Galvez questioned the DENR’s procurement of the quality monitoring equipment Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy or DOAS.
“These DOAS equipment are without market study up to now at the time of the procurement, they run but they are now truly function under perform as per claim specifications,” he said.
Galvez previously raised the same issue during the appointment hearing of former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.
However, Senator Gringo Honasan noted, Cimatu has been on the position for only several months, adding that he sees nothing wrong with the new DENR Chief.
“The problem Mr. Galvez to my mind is systemic … it’s the system,” Honasan said.
In terms of the programs of the department, Cimatu said he wants to increase the number of DENR personnel in the provinces.
‘I’ve been proposing for the increase in number of people to be assigned in the provinces. There are not enough [personnel] to enforce environmental laws like the clean water [law] or what we call solid waste management,” Cimatu said.
The Environment Secretary also assured the powerful bicameral body that he will not tolerate anyone who would collude in conducting illegal activities like cutting of trees.
“If the personnel of the DENR themselves are the ones violating the law, I (inaudible) your Honor that I will not tolerate these things. I have already warned many people down there, ‘I’m different from other guys’,” Cimatu said.
The CA will resume its hearing on the appointment of Secretary Cimatu. During the next hearing, the bicameral body will hear several oppositors to Cimatu’s appointment.
Cimatu is the second retired general that served in the DENR. The first was former Armed Forces and Defense Chief Angelo Reyes. – Nel Maribojoc | UNTV News & Rescue
DENR upholds program for phase out of ozone depleting substance
The Philippines is expected to be free of hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFC) by the year 2040.
This is based on the so called Montreal Protocol agreed upon by 197 states in 1987.
HCFC is an ozone depleting substance, a form of gas that causes thinning of the earth’s protective shield from the damaging effects of sun’s ultraviolet rays that cause skin cancer and other diseases.
HCFC is most common in air conditioning units and refrigerators.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) cited, in particular, unit models produced and bought in the Philippines in the year 1999.
“If the [air conditioning unit] is non-compliant and you’re not able to replace it then don’t use it frequently. Don’t use it especially when raining so [we] can [help] reduce its effect to the environment,” said DENR Undersecretary. Jonas Leones.
DENR added that around two million people have avoided deaths due to skin cancer with the implementation of the Montreal Protocol.
Most of the appliances nowadays are ozone depleting substances (ODS) compliant but they are now using hydrofluorocarbons, a form man-made greenhouse gas as an alternative. However, it still contributes to global warming.
“This means the effect of climate change, we will really experience, like for example sea level rise, extreme weather conditions,” said the undersecretary.
Thus, DENR calls on the public to avoid frequent use of equipment such as air conditioning units and refrigerators that emit HCFC.
Developing countries have started their respective phase-out programs on HCFC their phase-out program on HCFC but the Philippines is yet to start in 2024.
Experts said that there are alternatives for HCFC but the Philippines is not yet ready to adopt measures for its use. — Rey Pelayo | UNTV News & Rescue