(STAR) As the effects of climate change have become more evident and destructive as witnessed by recent calamities brought about by massive typhoons, various groups and companies have initiated ‘green’ projects that can help reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

With this, major utility company Meralco is now driving towards a ‘greener’ path by enforcing a ‘Clean Fleet’ management system. This is now being implemented starting with Meralco’s South Distribution Services (SDS) in partnership with CAI-Asia (Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities), the Lopez Group Business Excellence and Isuzu, one of the company’s suppliers.

With the ‘Clean Fleet’ management system, Meralco aims to attain a sustainable greenhouse gas reduction in its distribution business specifically in its fleet equipment.

“Meralco is very aware of its carbon footprint. With this corporate initiative, we aim to contribute to a greener environment by partnering with like-minded organizations and by reducing the emissions of our more than 1,000 units of fleet equipment,” said Ferdinand Geluz, project manager and SDS head. “We want to improve our processes to optimize fuel and equipment use and reinforce awareness and influence employee behavior through participation, training and monitoring.”

The Meralco SDS, which covers Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, and Quezon provinces (which is over half of Meralco’s franchise area) is the pilot site since SDS was ISO 14001 certified for its Environmental Management System last March 2009.

“This climate change initiative makes Meralco one of the first Philippine companies to engage in GHG accounting and voluntary reduction using the United Nations Environment Programme-developed Clean Fleet Management Toolkit. The project will show that greening the utility operations also means economic opportunities for the utility through efficiency initiatives related to GHG reduction for fuel and equipment use,” said Geluz. “Sharing the greening journey will support the move that GHG avoidance and reduction can be done with minimum cost and disruption to operations.”

Project partners are now training Meralco employees on proper fleet use, testing and maintenance, and green-friendly habits like ‘eco-driving’ to save fuel. The results on the pilot testing will guide project replication in Meralco’s North and Central Distribution Services soon.

With the initial success, Geluz and Leandro del Rosario, Fleet Team Leader of SDS Logistics were invited by the CAI-Asia, the Partnership for Clean Air (PCA), and the Philippine Business for the Environment (PBE) last month to speak on Meralco SDS’s experiences on piloting the Cleaner Fleet Management Toolkit of UNEP.

DA sets climate change adaptation projects (The Philippine Star) Updated November 15, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) has teamed up with Spain and the United Nations in an $8 million (roughly P368 million) pilot projects to enable the most vulnerable regions in the country to cope with the destructive impact of climate change.

This was announced by DA Undersecretary for Operations Jess Paras after he presided over the finalization of the demonstration project plan for the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) whose fragile ecosystem was seen to be the most vulnerable in the country.

The other showcase areas for coping with climate change were: the Bicol region, vulnerable for volcanic eruptions and typhoons, and Agusan del Norte identified as most vulnerable to climate-change induced drought in Mindanao, Paras said.

Metro Manila was included in the demonstration project for disease surveillance together with the province of Albay also in the Bicol region.

In the Cordilleras, the UN-Spain-RP funded project was meant to enable communities in contiguous fragile ecosystems to be ready to cope with climate change triggered disasters. Villages in that mountainous region have become the center of landslides that have resulted in hundreds of deaths whenever typhoons or strong monsoon rains hit Luzon.

Paras said lessons learned from the demonstration projects were meant to be replicated in the whole of the country as it incorporates climate-change mitigation and adaptation programs in its development planning process.

To be tested are innovative adaptation measures and technologies for agriculture and watershed management including biodiversity conservation.

To do this, the project implementers are organizing regional and local structures for inter-agency participation in making the climate-change adaptation programs sustainable over the long term, Paras explained.

“The back-to-back typhoons that hit Luzon in the past weeks had taught us the bitter lesson that when a region is hit by a major disaster, victims had to depend on themselves and their neighbors in the first day that that calamity hit them,” Paras said.

In the face of this harsh reality, those communities must be well prepared to help each other to prevent heavy tolls on lives, crops and properties, the DA official said.

The DA was chosen by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as lead agency in putting in place the demonstration projects because the food sector was identified as the most vulnerable segment of the Philippine economy to climate changes and the destruction they bring.

Global warming and the sudden changes in climate and weather patterns across the globe have hit hardest tropical countries like the Philippines. The highly developed countries, however, were the chief contributors to the problem.

Legarda prays for climate change mitigation (The Philippine Star) Updated October 04, 2009 12:00 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Loren Legarda has made her own prayer as a climate change mitigation advocate and Senate chairperson of two oversight committees with strong powers to redirect reforms towards sustainable agriculture.

Her prayer runs thus: “Dear Lord, in addition to the prayers going around –of petitions that you hold Pepeng by your mighty hands – we pray that we learn to protect Mother Nature from now on. That we will each plant and nurture five trees or more a year; that we will Reduce, Recycle and Reuse; and know that You are God.”

Legarda, United Nations Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation in the Asia Pacific and UN Environmental Program Laureate in 2001, has sponsored the Climate Change Bill early this year. At that time, there were some thoughts that climate change was a myth, that prognoses of erratic weather and geologic changes are exaggerated and do not warrant government quick response like the passage of the bill. The bill still awaits the President’s signature.

Called by many as ex-Green President, Legarda says we could do a lot while waiting for the signing of the bill.

Legarda, chairman of the Congressional oversight committee on agriculture and fisheries modernization (COCAFM), calls on the education and training departments to use the National Agriculture and Fisheries Education System (NAFES) to maximize the opportunities in providing our people exactly the education and training that they need to protect and rehabilitate our lowland, upland and fish farms.

She urged the Department of Education to work closely with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in revitalizing the NAFES, especially in agriculture and fishery areas where many impoverished farmers and fisherfolk need functional literacy.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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