Group seeks convergence vs. air pollution PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 06 September 2014 11:33

By CATHERINE J. TEVES

 

A private sector-led coalition elevated its clean air campaign by proposing the environment, transportation and trade departments’ anti-air pollution convergence to help further protect public health and address climate change.

Coalition of Clean Air Advocates (CCAA) believes such convergence will enable the agencies to better coordinate and maximize available resources for improving implementation of Republic Act No. 8749 (Clean Air Act of 1999).

“Those agencies must join forces on cleaning up the air,” CCAA President Herminio Buerano Jr. said Thursday in Metro Manila on the side of a briefing on air pollution in the country.

CCAA highlighted urgency for government’s crackdown particularly on the transport sector, noting latest available Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) data show about 80 percent of Metro Manila’s air pollution is from dirty emissions of mobile sourcesor motor vehicles.

Stationary and area sources like factories and construction sites account for only around 20 percent of the air pollution, CCAA noted.

R.A. 8749 requires all motor vehicles to pass the mandatory emission test before Land Transportation Office (LTO) can register these but due to “the pervasive practice of non-appearance in the motor vehicle emission testing industry, the law became ineffective and is renderedinutile in preventing smoke-belching vehicles from plying streets,” CCAA said.

Section 21-D on establishing the National Motor Vehicle Inspection and Maintenance Program (NMVIMP) is the crucial part of R.A. 8749 but hasn’t been fully implemented so this law is still ineffective in checking air pollution, CCAA continued.

CCAA said the three departments must develop an action plan for implementing R.A. 8749’s Section 21-D.

The appeal is in line with such same R.A. 8749 provision which requires the three departments to formulate and implement NMVIMP so there can be efficient and safe operation of all vehicles nationwide, noted Buerano.

DENR already set vehicle emission standards while Department of Transportation and Communication’s LTO long assumed NMVIMP’s inspection component, said CCAA.

Implementation of NMVIMP’s motor vehicle maintenance component solely rests with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) but this agency hasn’t yet commenced the undertaking, noted Buerano.

What’s needed are DTI-accredited shops which can service vehicles that failed government’s inspection and testing to make these compliant, he said.

Earlier this year, CCAA wrote the environment, transport and trade secretaries to express its concern about what this coalition calls the “piecemeal” implementation of R.A. 8749.

“As clean air advocates, we are particularly concerned about air pollution’s negative health impacts like respiratory diseases,” said Buerano.

CCAA also said some air pollutants help trap heat in the atmosphere so temperature rises, resulting in climate change.

DENR-Environmental Management Bureau Officer-in-Charge Jonas Leones is supporting CCAA’s bid for clean vehicle emissions.

“The transport sector mainly causes dirty air so we can address air pollution if vehicle emissions are clean,” he said.

To help promote clean air, DENR Secretary Ramon Paje earlier said the agency will require cleaner fuel by implementing Euro 4 standards for motor vehicles nationwide beginning mid-2015.

“We also already submitted to the transport department our recommendation to retire private vehicles aged 15 years and over,” Leones noted.

Citing latest available DENR data, CCAA noted lack of R.A. 8749 implementation continues taking its toll on air quality.

CCAA said the data show an increase in level of pollutive total suspended particulates (TSPs) in the country’s leading urban center Metro Manila.

The data show Metro Manila’s TSP level rose to 136 micrograms per normal cubic meter (ug/Ncm) during the January-June 2014 period, noted CCAA.

Such is more than the 118 ug/Ncm average TSP level DENR reported for Metro Manila in 2013, CCAA said.

Both levels exceed the internationally accepted WHO standard of 90 ug/Ncm for TSPs, Buerano warned.

“Aside from uncontrolled emissions, the rise in TSP level is possibly from factors like increase in number of vehicles,” noted Buerano.

To help promote clean air, Buerano said CCAA continues helping LTO crack down on erring private emission testing (PET) centers in the country.

CCAA also began training PET technicians on proper testing of vehicle emissions, he noted.

He continues inviting all sectors to join CCAA’s advocacy campaign since 2009 for cleaning up the country’s air.

Among CCAA’s members are doctors, health workers and business people.