Sunday, September 26, 2021

Peña: Clean Air Month

NOVEMBER is Clean Air Month. We thank God for the clean air, the only thing that is free today in this world. Air is so essential to our survival that we need to keep it clean. Let us not create a future where clean air will be bottled and sold like what happened to water. Many years ago, it was unimaginable for water to be bottled and sold like softdrinks.

A perfect gift for this year’s clean air month celebration is the commissioning of the second largest wind power project in the Philippines, the 150-megawatt Burgos Wind Project. It is said to be the largest wind farm in Southeast Asia. Located in Barangays Saoit, Poblacion and Nagsurot in Burgos, Ilocos Norte, the facility has 50 wind turbines. It is the second wind farm built in the province of Ilocos Norte.

Wind power is a clean energy source. It does not emit air pollution and greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. It is a renewable energy, which means it can be produced again and again. It does not require fossil fuel like bunker, diesel or coal. All it needs is strong and steady wind that’s why they are built in coastal areas.

Meanwhile, in Beijing, China where the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit is being held, there's bad news and good news. As host to APEC, China did everything to keep the air in Beijing clean. Factories within 200km of the city center were shut down, and all construction work during the summit was stopped. Schools and government offices have been granted a six-day holiday and residents were granted free admission to tourist attractions in a neighboring province presumably to clear the town.

With all the drastic measures taken, the sky cleared but not for long. To the embarrassment of Chinese officials, the smog went back. The US Embassy air quality monitor in China showed unhealthy readings of air pollution. But according to news reports, air pollution data from other sources like local smart phone apps and Web sites were blocked.

Now for the good news. The US and China announced a landmark agreement to sharply cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly discussed this issue for nine months and the announcement was made at the APEC summit. The cooperation of these two countries is critical in preventing global warming because they are the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters.

Back in the Philippines, the DENR has lined up several activities to celebrate clean air month. A “Clean Air Fiesta Caravan” with the theme, “Usok Mo, Buhay Ko,” will be held at the Dapitan Sports Complex on November 17, and at the Sarmiento Sports Complex. On November 18, the Firefly Brigade will hold its 14th Tour of the Fireflies, a publicly anticipated cycling event born from a concept that uses fireflies as an indicator of clean air. The bike tour will kick off at the Tiendesitas Complex in Pasig City and will have the theme, “B.E.S.T.-Bicycle for Environmentally Sustainable Transportation”.

Another event, a “car-free day festival” on the theme, “Clean Air?...Pwede!” will feature the use of bicycles, electric vehicles and other alternative modes of transportation at the Ayala Triangle in Makati City and at the Ortigas Centre in Pasig City on November 25.

The event is organized by the Environmental Management Bureau, the Partnership for Clean Air and its member institutions, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority, Department of Transportation and Communication, and the city governments of Pasig and Makati.

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