ILOILO CITY – Mayor Jerry Treñas on Friday said the local government's initiatives on addressing climate change, especially on reducing carbon emissions, took center stage at a world meeting in Austria earlier this month.
The mayor is back from the foreign engagement as one of the panelists representing the Philippines at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization’s (UNIDO) “Bridge for Cities” in Vienna, Austria from Sept. 4 to 5.
Other delegates were from Glasgow in Scotland, Lilongwe in Malawi, Mϋnster from Germany, Gyumri in Armenia, Kranj in Slovenia, Phnom Penh in Cambodia, and Amman in Jordan, where they zeroed in on the topic “Advancing Innovation and Partnerships for a Net Zero Transport.”
Treñas said he talked about the city’s “green lane” as a strategy to reduce emissions by connecting the plazas, esplanade, and tree parks through the network of bicycle lanes.
“I think Iloilo City is now making waves, especially when it comes to the reduction of carbon emissions. Among the cities in the Philippines. I think we are the frontrunner,” he said in an interview.
The Iloilo City Bike Network, stretching to 11 kilometers, connects to the three other major bike lane networks namely, the Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. Avenue, the University Loop, and the 12-kilometer bikeable section of the Iloilo Esplanade.
“We are the best among the very best in the Philippines. We are trying to innovate by connecting our bike lanes to our tree parks, and the biggest is the coming in of electric buses because we reduce carbon emission and our dependence on fossil fuels,” he added.
Iloilo City has a three-hectare Tree Park Development Project in Barangay Lanit in Jaro district that can sequester up to 33 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, while the 35.07 hectares of mangrove forest sequesters 29.4 metric tons of CO2 annually.
Aside from the bike lane and tree parks, he also said that the city is starting to adopt electronic vehicles (EV), with First Balfour of the Lopez Group proposing an EV bus rapid transit (BRT).
In January this year, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Department of Transportation (DOTr), with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), launched the test run for modernized electric e-vehicles as part of the PUV (Public Utility Vehicle) Modernization Program of the government.
“The effects of climate change are already there. We can only minimize the effects of climate change by going through green alternatives, like the e-bus,” he added.
The mayor added he has a lot of learning from the international forum on the fight against climate change, like the bike lanes in Vienna, which can be found on both sides of their boulevard, other practices on public transportation, community engagement, and public market projects, although he did not elaborate.
He said he would sit down with department heads to discuss what should be done to have them replicated in the city.
Meantime, on Friday, the city mayor welcomed the rollout of the SM Iloilo electric bus in partnership with More Electric and Power Corporation (MORE Power).
“This is already a good start. Hopefully, we will be getting more electric buses because that is already the way to go,” he said.
The zero-emission, fully electric minibus is a membership shuttle service with an initial route from the Iloilo City Hall to the Ceres terminal in Tagbak in Jaro district and stops at various SM locators.
It offers free rides from Sept. 15 to 30, but on its second week, those who would like to avail should have downloaded a GETPass App on their mobile phones.
MORE Power vice president for corporate planning and regulatory affairs Niel Parcon said two units will arrive next month and seven more before the year ends.
The bus can accommodate up to 35 passengers with a ramp, making it friendly to persons with disabilities (PWDs). (PNA)