AT LEAST a dozen business and advocacy groups have called on the Philippine government to regulate vehicles and expand clean energy use in response to a United Nations (UN) warning about the irreversible effects of climate change.

The UN called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, which warned that the planet could pass the critical global warming limit of 1.5°C within two decades, as a “code red for humanity.”

“Our country is one of the most affected by climate change with more record-breaking intense heat and drought during the dry months; unrelenting rains and stronger typhoons during the monsoon season with widespread flooding in and outside cities, and rising sea level causing many coastal areas in our country to disappear,” Green EDSA movement said in a statement.

The Green EDSA movement, supported by several business groups, is calling on government to strictly implement a national transportation policy that would prioritize people mobility over vehicle mobility.

“We call on President Rodrigo Duterte to issue an executive order to all relevant agencies to abide by and implement the 2017 National Transportation Policy of NEDA and direct the Climate Change Commission to coordinate and ensure the implementation of the above climate change mitigating measures,” the group said.

It also urged the government to regulate private vehicle volume on the roads to reduce air pollution and traffic congestion.

The group said that the Philippines must join a global shift to clean-energy vehicles, increase the use of green electricity generating plants, and expand a public park system.

Metro Manila and other highly urbanized areas should also be decongested by moving National Government offices to the new Clark Green City, it added.

Business organizations that have signed the statement include the Bankers Association of the Philippines, Employers Confederation of the Philippines, Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, Makati Business Club, Management Association of the Philippines, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Philippine Retailers Association, among others.

The Green EDSA Movement also made recommendations for specific government agencies, asking that the Metro Manila Development Authority to widen sidewalks and bike lanes, charge congestion fees on cars with too few passengers, and intensity efforts against smoke-belching vehicles.

The Department of Transportation is being urged to shift high-capacity commuter buses and expedite improved commuter connectivity between trains and buses. It also said the Department of Public Works and Highways should remove “obstructing structures” that create traffic chokepoints.

The Green EDSA Movement added that the Energy department should increase green electric power generating plant use, while the Environment department should be stricter when approving permits to cut trees for road widening.

“The bountiful natural endowments of our country are being despoiled by uncontrolled human developments. For instance, Manila lost its scenic bay shore Roxas Boulevard that could have extended beyond Baclaran to Cavite because of land reclamation development,” the group said.

The UN asked nations to join the net-zero emissions coalition and prevent the creation of new coal plants after this year.

“The alarm bells are deafening, and the evidence is irrefutable: greenhouse‑gas emissions from fossil-fuel burning and deforestation are choking our planet and putting billions of people at immediate risk,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said in an earlier statement. — J.P.Ibañez