By Joe Zaldarriaga

The drive for a greener future

November 7, 2023, 10:30 am

With the growing focus on sustainability, addressing pollution, especially in urban areas, is perhaps one of the most challenging aspects of the drive to go green.

Here in the Philippines, the transportation sector is the largest source of urban pollution as it accounts for 13 percent of our economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions according to the World Bank’s Country Climate and Development Report 2022.

Road-based transport, which largely runs on oil-based fuels, contributes the highest share of greenhouse gas emissions according to the World Bank, which also warned that if the current motorization trend continues, emissions from land transport would more than quadruple by 2050 from the year 2020 levels.

The trend is alarming. If any, it highlights the need for immediate and strategic action to address the imminent threat to our economic growth and overall well-being. It is already a given that enabling the country’s transition to more sustainable transportation requires the collective and complementing efforts of both the government and the private sector.

Last year, the government made a huge leap on this front with the signing of the Electric Vehicle Industry Development Act (EVIDA) which effectively lays down the policy framework to expedite the takeoff and growth of the electric vehicle or EV industry in the Philippines.

Since then, many in the private sector have ramped up their promotion of sustainable modes of transportation, with Meralco driving the industry-wide initiative for the faster adoption of electric vehicles or EVs in the country.

Meralco chairperson and chief executive officer Manuel V. Pangilinan or MVP affirmed this when he noted in a recent interview with One News the important role the company plays in the shift to EVs.

According to MVP, Meralco is in the best position to install charging stations across different parts of the country.

“Meralco should be the thought leader and lead the charge as well in the migration to e-vehicles and charging stations,” he said during the interview.

And this is true. Even before the signing of EVIDA, Meralco has long been at the forefront of EV developments—from conducting independent tests of EVs and chargers in its Ortigas headquarters to the strategic installation of charging stations across its franchise area. Meralco has been in the EV space for over 15 years already and this comes as no surprise given its decades of expertise in the energy industry.

What’s good is the company doesn’t just promote EVs, it walks the talk.

Internally, it has a Green Mobility program through which the company aims to electrify at least a quarter of its fleet by 2030. During the Giga Summit in October, Meralco said it currently has 156 EVs in its fleet—equivalent to a 7 percent vehicle electrification rate. This is higher than the government-mandated 5 percent.

Of course, the transition towards more sustainable transport solutions goes beyond EVs and charging stations. It requires a holistic industry-wide approach and Meralco recognizes this as seen in the introduction of its new subsidiary Movem Electric, Inc. earlier this year. Movem, according to Meralco, will focus on electric transport solutions—an important component of the transition to EVs.

From a general perspective, the Philippines has already jumpstarted the critical shift towards sustainable transportation. Huge strides have been made in this regard as proven by the reported uptick in EV sales, particularly e-bikes and e-motorcycles.

We see it in our roads but we also see that there is more work that needs to be done.

The shift to cleaner and greener transportation should go beyond just EV sales but rather adopt an industry-wide approach that considers the holistic and sustainable development of the sector.

Meralco is already leading the drive with such an approach. Hopefully, other industry players would follow suit.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in the foregoing article are solely the author’s and do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the Philippine News Agency (PNA) or any other office under the Presidential Communications Office.


About the Columnist

Image of Joe Zaldarriaga

Joe Zaldarriaga is a veteran, award-winning communicator immersed in public service within and beyond the energy sector. He has more than 30 years of experience serving the country’s biggest electric distribution utility and is involved in a number of public service functions, as member of various committees on public safety, power supply security and electrification. Concurrently, he is a prominent figure in the Philippine communications industry, as Chairman and Past President of the US-based International Association of Business Communicators Philippines (IABC PH). He is also an awardee of the University of Manila’s Medallion of Honor (Dr. Mariano V. delos Santos Memorial) and a Scroll of Commendation, a testament to his celebrated years in public service exemplified by outstanding communications.

Joe also shares his opinion and outlook on relevant national and consumer issues as a columnist in several prominent publications and is now venturing into new media via hosting a new vlog called Cup of Joe. Previously, Joe was a reporter and desk editor of a Broadcasting Company and the former auditor of the Defense Press Corps of the Philippines. A true green Lasalian, he finished with a degree in Asian Studies specializing in the Japan Studies program at De La Salle University, Manila, where he also spent his entire education.