Category Archives: Sustainability

The complicated world of technology transfer for climate change

Its been seven years already since I came across my first technology transfer project on climate change mitigation.  Anaerobic biodigesters at that time, was seen as a major force in methane capture and waste to energy as part of the Clean Development Mechanism or CDM.  The Philippines was seen as having a very large potential due to the widespread practice of microscale pig farmers which is embedded in our Filipino culture. Also, the concept and projects have taken off in Thailand and had been earning enough from emission trading schemes.

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So what happened after seven years? Not much really but of course there was the camaraderie developed among the trainers and project implementers.  Though the funding from the US EPA has somewhat died down.

When a technology is transferred, how do you sustain it? How do you localize it, how do you make it a point everyone will work on it with a common goal in mind?

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Filed under Climate Change, GHG Mitigation Effort, Pollution Control, Renewable Energy and Biofuels, Sustainability

I didn’t learn politics from school

This is the best time to write about Gina Lopez. She has been my favorite subject matter for a few years now ever since that fateful first impression at the Development Academy of the Philippines seven years ago.  “What is DAP?” she haughtily asked, that bravado kind of turned us off,  given her limited knowledge of those working for a government think thank.  How come she doesn’t know what we do, what is our purpose and mandate. I think that meeting was merely using the facilities of DAP. We were looking for funding and we were thinking she would be a good benefactor for sustainable development projects and policies.

I have no idea what was the outcome of that meeting but fast forward to 2017, we meet again at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.  I’m writing this at my temporary space at the DENR compound a few days after her rejection by the commission of appointments as DENR Secretary.

Her leadership approach was totally unconventional but at the end of it all what can we learn from it?  I have encountered people from the entire spectrum of for and against her, I don’t want to comment on that, I respect their stance.  The last blog I wrote on her was the fact that people compare me to her given my educational background in environmental science. I remember my early years in UPLB when former classmates perceive our presence in the university as merely farming, similar to that, environmentalists are like Gina Lopez, which is totally stereotypical.

How about people who have worked all of their lives at the DENR, particularly the Environmental Management Bureau, are they environmentalists, or are just government employees working for the environment. The public will judge not only Gina, but the DENR itself, but after her 10-month stints, some thing will totally change  drastically.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmental Management System, Greenwash, Pollution Control, Random, Sustainability

Its not always what it CEMS.

20170308_075211What could be the objective of this coal-fired power plant for publishing its weekly air emission data in a nationally circulated newspaper? I find it quite strange and they even have to put it on the front page which calls for much public attention.  Given the nice green graphics, of course they do want to gain positive feedback about their emissions profile.

However, being the outlier in the population, with training and education on these matters, the first reaction from me is of course….”greenwashing”. In the first place, there is nothing exemplary or extraordinary about these air emission data.  It is very likely that the other coal fired power plants within the vicinity such as the ones in Zambales or Pangasinan have the same emissions profile and they also monitor their emissions daily through an integrated measurement and monitoring device known as the Continuous Emission Monitoring System or CEMS.

The CEMS is a mandatory legal requirement as specified in the rules and regulations under Republic Act 8749 or the Clean Air Act of the Philippines. How come the Bataan plant has to publish an inforgraphic about its own emission? How come the other coal fired power plants don’t?  Maybe the other coal fired power plants are not insecure or they don’t have the public relations team that were previously employed in a beer company.

After the Clean Air Act was enacted more than 17 years ago, thermal power plants have come a long way. I have seen the CEMS profile of natural gas plants and its way better than these figures. Prior to the entry of coal, almost two thirds of the power supplied in the Luzon Grid was natural gas, but with the trend towards coal plants that are “cheap and dirty “to operate.

Remember in school when we would show our fingernails to the teachers to check whether the fingernails are clean and trimmed? To a certain degree, showing your emissions data is just like showing the tips of your fingers. You could not see how clean and efficient your entire body is by the tips of your fingers.

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Filed under Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmental Audit, Environmental Impact Assessment, Environmental Management System, Greenwash, Pollution Control, Sustainability

Cool Greenwashing

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Which planet are you trying to save? I believe we only have one earth.

My last post in my other blog Fast Food Greenwash was posted last October 7, 2012.  I haven’t seemed to access that blog for a quite a while since I haven’t had any work related to the fast food industry or they say “quick-serve restaurant” for quite a while.  Thankfully, I only eat fast food during emergency like when stuck in Metro Manila traffic and starving as hell  in my 3-hour commute.

2009 was a long time ago when I started blogging about Greenwashing and now that its 2007, things are getting worse and worse. Given the age of climate change mitigation actions, and the complicated rules of calculating GHG emissions, companies are playing around with  the carbon footprint and stamping it in their products and marketing materials. Anyway, I will write something about it separately.

In 2016, I had the opportunity to work for a GIZ  project on Green Cooling. The programme has been around for quite a while, since the enforcement of the Montreal Protocol on the control of substances that deplete the Ozone Layer more than two decades ago. Honestly, I have to admit, prior to this engagement, I have not connected Ozone Depletion with Climate Change even if  I have claimed expertise in environmental management.

ODS have always been treated independently from GHGs.  A “True or False”  question in my GHG verification course in 2011 even asked if Ozone Depletion causes Climate Change, of course the answer was false. Simply, Ozone Depletion is caused by Ultraviolet Radiation entering the atmosphere while Climate Change is caused by the trapping of heat from Infrared Radiation.  Who cares about UV and IR Radiation when all we see is White Light? What is true considering human activities was that prior solutions to ozone depletion have contributed to increased greenhouse gas emissions.

This is a truly complicated concept that has led to well… Greenwashing, particularly in refrigeration and air conditioning. Ok sell us the fridge and A/C, just get that “Eco-Friendly” sticker off.

Honestly, when I buy an A/C, I consider the price.  I don’t really look at the nameplate. But if you really want to be “ecofriendly” look at the nameplate. Why? Because that’s where you will find the rated capacity in terms of energy consumption and the refrigerant type.  Looking at the nameplate is not equivalent to looking at the bright and colorful stickers manufacturers place that are colorful and bright. Your attention is directed upon their “Greenwashing”.

The fact is, the Montreal Protocol has set the cap for ODS refrigerants and parties are directed to replace it with ODS alternatives….and these ODS alternatives are  high GWP GHGs….why did this happen?  Because, Ozone Depletion have always been treated independent of Climate Change?  except in 2016 when the Kigali Amendments to the Montreal Protocol was agreed upon.

Below are four nameplates of various cooling appliances, can you guess which one is the most eco-friendly?

 

 

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Filed under Climate Change, Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmental Audit, GHG Mitigation Effort, Greenwash, Random, Sustainability

When you love something

Today,  the Paris Agreements which calls for global climate action is set into force. Does anyone among the people I truly love understand what this is all about? Even the President of the Philippines does not even understand the context of the Paris Agreements and he has to rely on his advisers on how to go about this global pact.

Hopefully the trip of …Sec.. Gina Lopez…hello call me… to COP 22 on Marrakesh become fruitful. I hope she understands the technical protocols involved. I hope she’s not there for the side events only, but most probably, she will be in one of those. The Philippines has a quite a number of official delegates to COP 22 compared to the Kigali Meetings of the Montreal Protocol, we only have one official delegate, the program manager of the National Ozone Unit. There is so much irony, so much oxymoron, and so much pun. So much, that some things I just don’t understand. Like, love?

Why am I talking about love at this point in time? Its so out of place, out of context. Its not February, way far from Valentines. Way far from my wedding anniversary and mother’s birthday. What if something you really love was taken away from you, because they think its not important, even if you have spend most of your working life to achieve it?  If you read my ABOUT page, all I wanted to be was a GHG Verifier, did I even put Lead Verifier?  Let me check. So why am I not one? At this point I could never truly understand, I don’t fully understand, and I could not comprehend the turn of events since the end of 2013.

Based on the internal rules of my former designated operational entity,  a prerequisite, is a Lead Auditor Qualification in ISO 9001 or ISO 14001. I admit, I’m such a terrible auditor for ISO 9001, I needed more training, supervision, more exposure to product design and development. I was not provided any competence intervention related to my critical competency lapses , my DOE a dear (female dear with antlers), does not really care about me since 2013…they have shown a genuine distaste of me. Hope, they get preyed on by wolves.

That’s only partial, a Lead Auditor qualification in ISO 14001 will do. On 27 November 2013, I got an acceptable partial evaluation for ISO 14001. The next step…..I left after three (3) years of inaction. Why are they so mean and ugly? Why do they want to cause me so much pain and anguish? Why can stupid human beings be so evil? I could not say anything good about them at all. You people have caused me so much pain, you did your best to destroy me personally and take away something very important and valuable.

Tonight,the Paris Agreements is in force… I have to move on. Articles 2, 4, 6, 13, 14, 15 will require GHG verification in the future. The Philippines keep on saying there is no local expertise and we have to rely on foreign assistance…and they get jet lag after travelling half-way around the world, we can be truly mean sometimes.

This is a point in my life where I am taking things slow, just being thankful for blessings that come my way, learning new things, polishing my knowledge and competence in sector scopes on fugitive emissions, gaining the safety and health  competence related to that. Oh, H&S is also another issue and I’m taking it really seriously.  Learning is really a lifelong process. Be modest, be humble, but  also  expect for the best. If they can not give you the best, leave them, because they are not good at all.

 

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Filed under Career Notes, Climate Change, Environmental Audit, Environmental Management System, GHG Mitigation Effort, Quality, Health, Safety & Environment, Random, Sustainability

MOLDS and LEED…S not the wine type

Mold infestations have been bothering me. In 2008, I worked in the 7th floor of a High Rise building. I was always sick, I can smell the sour stench from the carpeting, when Test America came, they could sense a degree of Sick Building Syndrome on the lower floors given the lack of ventilation among that levels. Should we get used to it or spend efforts on eliminating it?

Green buildings are not only limited to energy and resource efficiency but  also the health and wellness of the people using it. Molds are just one aspect, emissions of volatile organic compounds, thermal comfort, adequate acoustics, illumination and overall indoor quality is essential and as a requirement periodically tested. 

Sometimes that’s the irony of it all, such concepts are popular but are not fully implemented and lacks adequacy of implementation. How can I work efficiently and effectively if I don’t have a workplace at all and I have to utilize my creativity to improvise? 

In the Philippines, there are only two (2) USGBC certified buildings. I guess, there is the Philippine Green Building Council and they have more certified buildings. There is a premium on this building, but who gives a damn about this?

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Filed under Career Notes, Climate Change, Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmental Audit, Environmental Management System, GHG Mitigation Effort, Renewable Energy and Biofuels, Sustainability

The Burden of a Hundred Millionth Filipino

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Way back in college, during my days of SOSC I,  there were only 75 Million Filipinos based on the 1995 population census. I just got back the office today to be welcomed by public school teachers conducting pre-census for 2015.  It is confirmed, the Philippines has reached its 100 million population mark this year and the 2015 census is a confirmation.

It is quite surprising that after the announcement, no one seemed alarmed of the challenge that a hundred million population would bring given the limited resources endowed in this country. My first class in resource economics totally changed my outlook in college, the Philippines has lost its endowment and optimizing resource use is difficult.

Why no big deal about this? Is it a good or a bad thing?  The point is, there lies a challenge ahead and no one is anticipating the burden that something like this will bring about.  If there is a population, there is a population pressure. The science of demographics has been developed to objectively analyze things.

However, analysis is skewed and biased to those who will benefit from the data. Objectivity is rare this days, everyone is self serving. The self serving nature will cloud up the data, until things are totally problematic.

 

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Corporate Social Responsibility, Environmental Audit, Pollution Control, Sustainability