Clean air advocate seeks policy-oriented action to cut carbon emission

Electric bicycles are on display at a store along Raxabago corner Juan Luna Street in Tondo, Manila. PHOTO BY MIKE ALQUINTO

A climate advocate pushed for a policy-oriented method to help improve the air quality in the Asia Pacific as the Philippines' air quality does not meet the standards of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Clear Air Asia (CAA), a non-government organization, said in a statement on Monday that concerned sectors should “collaborate to enforce air quality standards and consolidate clean air and climate action plans.”

“In this day and age, it's important that we recognize policy and technology solutions are key to ensuring significant and efficient emission reduction in our cities and in national governments,” said Dang Espita-Casanova, Clean Air Asia program manager.

“This process we believe should be participatory, inclusive, and highlights the co-benefits of actions so that we are able to engage and enlist support from all actors in the space,” she added.

The CAA said that data from WHO showed that 25 percent of the Philippines' population is exposed to unhealthy air of about PM2.5 concentration, which is “at least 5 times more than the global recommendation.”

According to PM2.5 or particulate matter 2.5 refers to “tiny particles or droplets in the air that are two and one half microns or less in width.”

“This is mainly due to the emission of greenhouse gasses, primarily from the transport sector which contributes over 80 percent of the country's total emissions,” the CAA added.

Several environmental groups sought the shift to electric vehicles (EVs) to help cut down carbon emissions in the country that is being promoted under Republic Act 1169 which provides for the development of the electric vehicle industry in the Philippines.

CAA said that Indonesia, Brunei, Burma, Myanmar, Laos, and Thailand are also ramping up their shift to EVs by introducing policies to promote it.

In Laos, the government imposed a zero-percent tariff for the importation of EVs, which also has an excise tax of only 3 percent, a value-added tax of 7 percent lower, and vowed to not impose restrictions on EVs.

Indonesia, on the other hand, exempted e-vehicles from sales and luxury sales tax and is set to allot $320 million to incentivize the purchase of EVs, CAA said.

The Department of Energy aims to limit the sale of gas-powered vehicles by 2040 where EVs should account for half of all vehicles plying the roads in the Philippines.

Different types of EVs were also given tax breaks for the first five years under Executive Order 12 series of 2023, with the exception of electric motorcycles, which drew the ire of several groups and think tanks.

According to the Land Transportation Office, a majority of motorists use motorcycles, with around 8 million units registered to the body.

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