MANILA, Philippines—More than 500,000 diesel-fueled jeepneys, buses, trucks and other vehicles in Metro Manila are responsible for about 70 percent of the total soot or black carbon emissions in the Philippines, according to Climate Change Commissioner Heherson Alvarez.
In a speech before the just-ended 2013 Sustainable Development Summit in New Delhi, a copy of which was furnished to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Alvarez also reported that “public utility vehicles, mostly jeepneys, produce 22,000 metric tons of soot emissions per year” in the country.
The conference was held from Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 in the Indian capital.
Citing Philippine Environment Monitor figures, the former senator and environment secretary noted that “air pollution costs the Philippine economy some $1.5 billion annually, in large part due to diesel vehicles.”
“The World Bank estimates that some 5,000 annual premature deaths make up 12 percent of all deaths in Metro Manila, the highest of any region in the Philippines, due primarily to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases from exposure to air pollution,” he said.
Alvarez said “the country spends over $400 million in direct costs annually — about 0.6 percent of GDP — on health expenses caused by pollution.”
But there is good news, he said. “The Philippine government is inaugurating this year the CCC’s Black Carbon Project.”
“The goal is to modify some 500,000 Metro Manila jeepney and bus engines over a five-year period in order to reduce their black soot emissions,” he said.
Black carbon, he said, “has a climate change effect several thousand times that of carbon dioxide. Fortunately, unlike CO2, the mitigation of black carbon is easy to do. Simply fix the engine so that it burns diesel fuel efficiently at the right fuel-air mixture.”
According to Alvarez, “total investment in the project is estimated at $615 million,” to be sourced mainly from international private sector.
“Using current global warming potential conversion rates, soot emissions from 500,000 jeepneys will be reduced by 80 percent. This will result in the equivalent of at least 25 million metric tons of CO2 reduction. For comparison, this represents nearly 17 percent of the current Kyoto Greenhouse Gas Inventory for the Philippines of 150 million metric tons,” he said.
Earlier, the Climate Change Commission cited a recent scientific study pointing to black carbon as the “second most important, but previously overlooked factor in global warming.”
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, the body said.
It also said that “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 at least 50 percent.”
This would increase the chance of keeping temperatures rise below 2 degrees Celsius, thereby slowing the advance of climate change by several decades, the CCC added.