Gov’t to retrofit Metro jeepneys to lessen carbon emissions



MANILA, Philippines—The government plans to modify the engines of some 500,000 diesel-fuelled jeepneys plying the streets of Metro Manila in an ambitious effort to reduce the country’s emissions of soot or “black carbon.”

The Climate Change Commission said on Wednesday it was planning to introduce a P26-billion program to be sourced from international private sector for the modification of the engines of the jeepneys over a five-year period.

“Diesel-driven jeepneys, buses and trucks are responsible for 70 percent of black soot emissions in our urban centers,” Commissioner Heherson T. Alvarez said in a statement emanating from Doha, Qatar, where he leads the Philippine delegation in  ongoing climate change talks. The talks are actually the 18th conference of parties in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The plan is to retrofit the jeepneys using Australian technology that will reduce soot emissions by as much as 80 percent, he elaborated in a telephone interview.

Alvarez, a former senator and environment secretary, cited a study by the Asian Development Bank estimating that some 500,000 public utility vehicles, mostly jeepneys, produce 22,000 metric tons of soot emissions per year.

Air pollution costs the Philippine economy $1.5 billion annually, in large part due to diesel vehicles, according to the Philippine Environment Monitor.

“The country spends over $400 million in direct costs annually – some 0.6 percent of the country’s gross domestic product – on health expenses caused by pollution,” Alvarez said.

Another study by the World Bank estimates that some 5,000 annual premature deaths, or 12 percent of all deaths in Metro Manila, the highest of any city in the Philippines, are due to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases from exposure to the city’s pollution, Alvarez said.

Soot emitted by jeepneys is composed of “extremely fine airborne particles believed to be among the largest man-made contributors to global warming because they absorb solar radiation and heat the atmosphere,” Alvarez said.

But soot has not been recognized as a greenhouse gas, he noted.

The Philippines, along with a number of allied countries, is making a push to include black carbon on the list of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming at the Doha meetings,  Alvarez said.

“By doing so, governments can attack black carbon and immediately address climate change by as much as 50 percent,” he said.

A recent scientific study found that black carbon “is now emerging as the second most important, but previously overlooked, factor in global warming,” Alvarez said.

He said studies showed that reducing soot emissions from diesel engines could slow the melting of glaciers in the Arctic more effectively and more economically than any other quick fix.

“If governments radically cut  levels of black carbon and methane through technologies that are now available, then we could cut the rate of global warming by 50 percent,” he said.

Alvarez said this would increase the chance of keeping temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius, thereby slowing the advance of climate change by several decades.

In a related development, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje sought public support in bringing down  air pollution levels in Metro Manila to acceptable standards.

Metro Manila’s air, he said, has actually become less polluted, registering declines in both the amount of total suspended particulates (TSP) and the level of particulate matter 10 microns in diameter or smaller (PM10) in the urban center.

As of the third quarter, the TSP level in the National Capital Region was recorded at 106ug/Ncm (micrograms per normal cubic meter), or 16ug/Ncm short of the acceptable level of 90ug/Ncm set by the World Health Organization.

Paje noted that when the Aquino administration came in June 2010, the TSP level in Metro Manila was at 166ug/Ncm. The current PM10 level of 77ug/Ncm in Metro Manila is also approaching the annual guideline threshold of 60ug/Ncm, he said.

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Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • buttones

    For a start ‘soot’ is not a gas, it is organic particles, a by product of burning fossil fuels from oil to even wood, and certainly does hang around in the lower atmosphere and we breath it every day. But it is the CO and CO2, Methane and Nitrous oxide that contribute to green house gasses, all naturally occurring but boosted over the last 100 years by mans demand for ‘power’ be it electricity or a car.

    And I am sorry to say that this will continue, 90% of the energy demands over the next 20 years will be supplied by coal, oil, and gas in that order[ Wood Mackenzie report] Hydro, Nuclear and other renewable ideas don’t even figure. And what exactly is this Australian technology? A Secret? It has not been explained. I read the other day that school girls in Africa had developed a generator that can run on urine [basic science actually] the problem is the process produces hydrogen as the fuel, a lethal product as the Hindenburg event can illustrate.

    But, but … given safeguards, and technology could this not be developed? I mean we tamed the bomb [for the most part] why not this sort of basic technology?

    It seems to me my government is not really looking that far ahead, a band aid solution.. And the solution is not even home grown…

  • speedstream2

    So many ideas for the protection of human beings and the environment, so little political will. Good news copy, so little in reality. And we wonder why people have become so cynical and unbelieving? Oh, climate change mitigation? It’s the in-thing, but do we have a real, workable plan already in place to get this really going in our country?

  • ADD

    Bakit sya ung head ng Climate Change Commission, di ba wala naman syang ngawa nun DENR secretary sya? Lumaganap ung illegal logging during his time.

  • Edgardo Mendoza


  • J

    Ok sana kung tayo mismo maypag-aaral diyan. 
    Puro World Bank ang sinasabi ni alvarez.
    Kailangan lang puwersahan overhaul every-year ang makina at cooling system dapat ilagay sa tama bago marehistro sa LTO. Ilagay yung temperature control (thermostat) ng engine para mapanatili maganda ang temperature ng makina. Karamihan kasi tinatanggal o tanggal na yung radiator cap at walang coolant ang radiator kundi tubig lang. Wala din thermostat ang mga engine dahil ang rason para daw huwag mag-init ang makina.
    Isa pa dapat magkaroon ng pre-heating ng fuel galing sa init ng radiator para maganda ang combustion.

  • Harry

    “…Air pollution costs the Philippine economy $1.5 billion annually, in large part due to diesel vehicles, according to the Philippine Environment Monitor.
    “The country spends over $400 million in direct costs annually – some 0.6 percent of the country’s gross domestic product – on health expenses caused by pollution,” Alvarez said…”

    Are those statistics coming from our own research centers?

    “…But soot has not been recognized as a greenhouse gas, he noted…”

    Any high school student knows that with the presence of soot there is incomplete combustion and when there is incomplete combustion there is a combination of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and other gas emissions.

  • Lateralus

    sana naman hindi lang carbon emissions ng jeepney ang solusyonan ng gobyerno, pati na rin ang masamang disiplina ng karamihan ng jeepney drivers. sila na nga ang hihinto sa gitna ng daan para magbaba ng pasahero o makipag kwentuhan sa ibang driver HABANG nasa gitna ng daan, pag binusinahan mo e sila pa ang galit, haha.

  • rinom

    please tell about this technology, where is to be located and how it works without specifics.

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