Longer hours of traffic with jeepneys, buses, trucks, motorcycles, and cars congesting the road and releasing gas emissions every single day contribute a lot to climate crisis.

Nothing is permanent in this world as everything has an end. But this universal phrase seems not to be the case in Metro Manila where daily transport crisis takes forever to be solved.

Walang forever, pero ang traffic sa EDSA, meron!’ (There is no forever. ­But you can find forever in EDSA traffic!) I often hear or see memes on social media about this inside joke that are shared by thousands of Filipinos who pass by the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) Highway–the longest and most congested circumferential highway in the Philippines that connects all cities in the metro.

I’m up as early as 6AM to prepare for my 10AM work to avoid being late. Originally, it can take one hour to travel from my house to my workplace and vice versa. However, since traffic jams are taking over as early as 5AM every day, my one hour commute becomes two hours or more. The amount of sacrifice and stress that commuters like me have to go through every day is no joke.

The government has tried to implement various solutions. Different out-of-the-box suggestions from other sectors and so-called experts were also entertained to balance and study its pros and cons.

Primitivo Cal, a former executive director at UP Planning and Development Research Foundation Inc., discovered in his research that rapid urbanization and mono-centric urban form are one of the significant factors of transport crisis in the Philippines, particularly in Metro Manila.

According to Cal, urbanization in the country as of 2015 has reached 70% from 30% in the 1950s. Additionally, most of the business districts are only concentrated in one urban area which means higher concentration of people also takes place. As a result, the country’s public transportation system is unable to meet or to be on the same level of the demands of the rising urban population.

The slow development of public transportation system paved way for insufficient buses and jeepneys, and poorly maintained trains. One evident example of this scenario was the recent issue about the closure of the three stations of the Manila Light Rail Transit System Line 2 (LRT-2) for nine months due to mechanical issues affecting an average number of 200,000 passengers a day.

These commuters–who exhaustingly endure the long train queue just to avoid traffic–has no choice but to brace the horrors of gridlock and to search for alternatives.

When jeepneys and buses are already overloaded, they often depend on cabs and TNVS or ride-hailing apps. But this is not always the case as it requires them a higher fare, most especially during rush hours. That is why most Filipinos, who can afford, are currently resorting to own a motorcycle or private cars–which heightens the traffic and transport crisis in the metro.

Based from the latest Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) report, the volume of private vehicles hogging EDSA increased by 5.75 percent this year—bigger than those of motorcycles, jeepneys, and buses. As car purchases continue to escalate, road spaces become lesser and more crowded. Hence, the daily calvary of traffic grows and worsens.

There’s more to transport crisis

Transportation activities indeed support the increasing mobility demands of passengers as those help them be at their destination without the hassle. However, in this situation, it can also be a pain in the neck – not only for motorists but for the environment as well.

Longer hours of traffic with jeepneys, buses, trucks, motorcycles, and cars congesting the road and releasing gas emissions every single day contribute a lot to climate crisis.

According to several studies, road transport is the largest contributor to global warming as it is a major consumer of energy that burns most of the world’s petroleum. This includes greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide, methane, halocarbons, and particulates that cause air pollution.

In other words, the more the transport crisis grows, the more these greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere which results in the depletion of the earth’s ozone layer and further extreme environmental impacts – climate change, global warming, weather disturbances, and strong natural calamities to name a few.

Based from the 2012 GHG Emissions Factsheet of the Philippines, the country’s total gas emissions were 157.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e), totaling 0.33 percent of global GHG emissions.

Last 2018, the transport sector in the Philippines ranked second with 35% of the total emissions. Harmful pollutants coming from the transport sector in the United States have also a great contribution of GHG with 47% since 1990 and in Europe with 40% where automobiles or cars are leading.

These fossil fuels greatly affect the whole ecosystem as a whole in which it creates a never-ending cycle of risks for the environment and people’s needs. When climate crisis occurs, transport sector has to make certain developments from its fuel to its structure for it to be useful during typhoons, flash floods, and extreme drought. And then, the problem repeats and the cycle goes on.

In addition, climate crisis are said to be caused by the Jevon’s Paradox which states that an increased efficiency of a resource gives birth to bigger problems.

Act than react

Gearing towards a green, healthy, and sustainable environment, we can continue to influence the government to go hand in hand with its international allies to solve the crisis and promote sustainability.

There exists a collective effort and continuous compliance of the participating countries to a certain agreement such as the COP21, a replacement for Kyoto Protocol, to regularly curb climate crisis.

However, in this situation where transport crisis is currently apparent, more needs to be done to improve our modes of transportation. We can start with small acts to lessen the drastic changes we are experiencing.

Instead of buying private vehicles that can only add up to fossil fuel and carbon emission, we can use anti-congestion tactics like investing on e-scooters or bicycles.

We also have the option to walk if we’re only a few kilometers away from our workplace or school.

There are ways to lessen the effects of both crises, and this can be achieved only if the government and its people have the drive, the discipline, and the right mindset to solve these problems.

We also have to remind ourselves that transport and climate crisis are no longer ordinary economic issues; these are already economic emergency cases—where sense of urgency and immediate action are needed.

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