HOUSEHOLDS are taking up the slack on carbon emissions due to work-from-home schemes after companies shut down by the pandemic cut back on their on-sit e operations, according to officials from the power, telecom, and electric vehicle industries.

“Offices, manufacturers and firms are on shut down mode. We’re not using much of our power and electricity. Since people are working from home… this is where the carbon footprint will increase,” Gerhard P. Tan, an engineer who is Globe Telecom, Inc.’s director of technology strategy, said at the BusinessWorld Insights webinar Wednesday.

He said industry and individuals have a collective responsibility to lower the Philippines’ overall carbon footprint.

Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) Chief Sustainability Officer Raymond B. Ravelo said coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has decreased the company’s emissions since the beginning of the lockdown.

“People have been working from home. When the community quarantine started, we started deploying fewer people. It’s been naturally easier to cut down our emissions,” he said, adding that the firm had been making a push for renewable energy and vehicle electrification even before the pandemic.

“We were able to reduce (emissions) on a year-on-year basis,” he said, citing data issued in September.

Edmund Araga, the President of the Electric Vehicle Association of the Philippines, said the global health emergency has impacted the manufacturing of electric vehicles (EVs) as well as procurement, distribution and fleet operations.

He said EVs did their part during the emergency with electric-powered jeepneys and tricycles helped ferry healthcare frontliners between hospitals and their homes.

According to Meralco’s Mr. Ravelo, EVs will help reduce emissions over the long term.

“One thing that the pandemic taught us is that there is greater awareness of respiratory health. In that light, decarbonization is very important. Having zero-emissions alternatives is very important and that’s where EVs are well positioned,” he said.

Dealing with any crisis is expensive, said First Philippine Holdings Corp. Chief Sustainability Officer Agnes C. de Jesus. However, she added that firms needed to “act now on climate change as delayed action will be more costly.”

She added that companies can reduce emissions through short or long-term targets, and by looking at various means to mitigate carbon emissions, including minimizing them in their supply chains. — Angelica Y. Yang