Editorial: Green economy

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

SOUTHEAST Asian cities are said to be making inroads toward greater energy efficiency, the Philippines included. But we only need to look at our roads to realize, we’re not making any dent yet on being green and substantially cutting down on those emissions.

There may be private emission testing centers all over cities and towns, but there are just as many smoke-belching vehicles running around.

The World Bank (WB) is proposing the adaption of Sustainable Urban Energy and Emissions Planning (Sueep).


In the “Energizing Green Cities in Southeast Asia: Applying Sustainable Urban Energy and Emissions Planning” by Dejan R. Ostojic, Ranjan K. Bose, Holly Krambeck, Jeanette Lim, and Yabei Zhang, it notes that cities account for around two-thirds of the world’s annual energy consumption and around 70 percent of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Southeast Asia, where the Philippines belongs, is the fastest urbanizing region, meaning, it is the one that will be most affected in the coming years by the degradation brought about by emissions.

“In the coming decades, urbanization and income growth in developing countries are expected to push cities’ energy consumption and GHG emissions shares even higher, particularly where the majority of people remain underserved by basic infrastructure services and where city authorities are under-resourced to shift current trajectories,” the report reads.

Inroads are being made, but there has to be a more focused path for greater energy efficiency.

Sueep, as proposed by WB, can help cities get on the green growth path by facilitating the development of comprehensive urban energy policies and investment strategies to enhance energy efficiency.

Through using the Sueep framework, principle energy and emission issues of a city are identified and “establish a road map for city governments to maximize energy efficiency outcomes, integrate energy efficiency into wider city planning processes; coordinate across sectors to prevent duplication or conflicts; work with stakeholders; and establish the monitoring and reporting processes that are essential for good management of energy and are prerequisites for attracting financing.”

Three pilot cities have been chosen, Surabaya in Indonesia, Da Nang in Vietnam, and Cebu in the Philippines.

The process would walk a local government unit into looking into expenditures and potential infrastructure investments across sectors and against financial, social, and environmental returns such that even multi-billion investments will be seen not just on how much it will cost but moreso on the savings it will actually help incur through better efficiency and general health of the community and the environment.

“Decisions made today will define the region’s energy use and its greenhouse gas footprint well into the future. Given the scale of energy demand and emissions growth in East Asian cities, city governments’ decisions to enhance energy efficiency not only contribute to their economic development, but also bring benefits beyond the region,” the report reads.

True. There is no better time to start moving toward a green economy than today. Putting this off for tomorrow will just bring more degradation in the people’s way of life and the health of both people and the environment. As it is, cities are breaking at the seams with too many people, the earth cannot sustain such growth without massive cooperation from the people and their leaders.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 26, 2014.


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