Promotion of Low Carbon Urban Transport Systems in the Philippines

Thomas M. Orbos
Policy and Regulatory Specialist

I. Introduction

The Philippines is one of the archipelagic nations that is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and hazards. Risks would include rise of sea level, increased frequency of extreme weather events, rising temperatures, and extreme rainfall. This is primarily attributed by its high exposure to natural hazards (typhoons, floods, droughts, landslides), dependence on climate-sensitive natural resources, and vast coastlines where all major cities and the majority of the population reside. Projected changes in climate by 2050 include 1.8° – 2.2°C increase in temperatures, reduced rainfall from March to May in most areas, increased heavy and extreme rainfall in Luzon and Visayas during the southwest monsoon but decreased rainfall trends for most of Mindanao, increased incidence of extreme weather and hazard events including days exceeding 35°C, days with less than 2.5mm of rain and days exceeding 300mm of rain, and 0.48-0.65 meter rise in sea level by 2100.1

With 1994 as the baseline year for the first inventory, the Philippines Initial National Communication (INC) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Secretariat reported that the energy sector was the most significant sector accounting for 49% of the total Greenhouse gas (GHG) CO2e was the energy sector.2 In 2000, the same sector was noted to have an increased contribution to 55%. Based on the Second National Communication to the UNFCCC secretariat, the transport subsector of energy sector tops the contribution with 37% of the said pie. Road transport accounted for almost 80% of the energy demand, representing the sector’s highest demand contribution and source of emission. It was then suggested to give mitigation priority to this subsector.3

The passage of Republic Act 9729, also known as the Climate Change Act of 2009, established the Climate Change Commission (CCC) with the task to coordinate, monitor, and evaluate the programs and action plans of the government relating to climate change. On April 2010 the Philippines adopted the National Framework Strategy on Climate Change (NFSCC). Then creating the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) that outlines the country’s agenda for adaptation and mitigation for 2011 to 2028. The said plan has seven (7) priority areas and sustainable energy was one of them. The said priority area has the following intended outcomes: promotion and expansion of energy efficiency and conservation; development of sustainable and renewable energy; environmentally sustainable transport; and climate-proofing and rehabilitation of energy systems infrastructures.

In the said plan, immediate outcome number 3 expects the promotion and adaptation of Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST). This includes all key facets of transport, such as: vehicle emission control, standards; cleaner fuels; strengthening road side monitoring and assessment; land-use planning; public transport planning and travel demand management; environment and people-friendly infrastructure development; road safety and maintenance; traffic noise management; public health; social equity and gender perspectives; strengthening roadside air quality monitoring and assessment; strengthening knowledge base, awareness, and public participation. Expected outputs include (1) integration of EST strategies and fuel conservation measures to national and local development plans; and (2) development and promotion of innovative financing mechanisms.

In addition to this, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) issued Board Resolution No. 5, series of 2017, “National Transport Policy”. The document is the transport vision of the country for a “safe, secure, reliable, efficient, integrated, intermodal, affordable, cost-effective, environmentally sustainable, and people-oriented nation transport system that ensures improved quality of life of the people”. The policy guides the long-term development of the transport sector and attempts to address recurring issues of lack of integrated and coordinated transport network, overlapping and conflicting functions of transport agencies, transport safety and security concerns, and inadequate transport facilities particularly in conflict-affected and underdeveloped areas.

Steered by the international treaties, national laws, policies and action plans on mitigating the effects of climate change in transport subsector, this Strategic Action Plan (SAP) shall serve as a guide to create an enabling environment for the commercialization of low carbon transport systems in the Philippines. This ten-year action plan (2021-2030) shall aid the Department of Transportation (DOTr) in its effective enforcement of policies and support for the promotion of low carbon modes of transportation. The plan shall also help in adopting and implementing low carbon transport plan and/or programs in major cities. It shall include strategies to increase private sector participation and investment in the widespread deployment and commercialization of low carbon transport systems. These objectives are geared towards the achievement of higher societal goals of improving the transport system and reduction of GHG emissions. In addition, this SAP has identified measures to minimize the health risks of COVID-19 and other related emergencies in the future. Moreover, the plan may serve as a reference among other national government agencies and local government units in their crafting and adoption of their respective development plans.

1 Climate Change Risk in the Philippines, Country Fact Sheet, USAID, February 2017
2 National Environmental, Economic and Development Study (NEEDS) for Climate Change by Resources, Environment and Economics Center for Studies Inc., March 18, 2010
3 Second National Communication to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Philippines