BENGUET, Rizal, and Metro Manila are at the bottom of the air quality standings, with over 97% of their population exposed to some of the highest particulate matter (PM) concentrations in the entire country, Greenpeace said in a report.

All Filipinos are exposed to air that fails to meet World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, Greenpeace said. The WHO considers air of acceptable quality to contain no more than 5 micrograms of PM per cubic meter of air (5 µg/m3), it said in a report issued on Sept. 2.

However, Benguet, Rizal, and Metro Manila average 25 µg/m3, the non-government organization said.

PM refers to fine inhalable particles. Particles of about 2.5 micrometers are referred to as PM2.5, the industry standard for airborne pollutants.

To address the air quality problem, Greenpeace supports a phaseout of fossil-based energy projects and a reliable energy source that does not depend on imports.

Greenpeace Campaigner Khevin Yu told BusinessWorld by phone over the weekend that the argument against imported fuel is also economic because “Right now, in terms of fossil gas prices here and globally, it is expensive.”

“Improving air quality is not only a matter of ensuring health and justice, but also of addressing the climate crisis and eliminating the common denominator — our country’s dependence on dirty energy,” Mr. Yu said in a statement released earlier.

A separate report issued by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and the Global Solar Council (GSC) highlighted the dangers of fossil fuel dependence, as reflected in the current energy crisis.   

GWEC and GSC said governments need to encourage public and private investment in clean energy.

Michael O. Sinocruz, director of the Energy Policy Planning Bureau at the Department of Energy (DoE), said in an e-mail on Sept. 1 that net-zero goals imply a 100% share of renewable energy (RE) in the power generation mix, or an effort to “blend renewable energy with other emerging clean energy technologies.”

Currently, the DoE is targeting an RE share of 30% in the energy mix by 2030 and 50% by 2040. — Ashley Erika O. Jose