An Ideas-Based Online Magazine of the Global Network for Advanced Management

After COP21: To Fix Climate Change, Solve Traffic Problems

Two years ago, representatives of more than 190 countries signed the Paris Climate Accord at COP21. Global Network Perspectives asked experts across the network about the policies that their countries are implementing in order to meet the commitments made in the agreement—and the challenges that remain.

Although policies and innovations are being developed and implemented to address climate change in the Philippines, the Metro Manila traffic crisis is a serious threat to the anticipated benefits from these initiatives. 

Based on a global-GPS survey, Metro Manila has earned the number one spot as having “the worst traffic on Earth.” The worst stretch is the 23.9-kilometer highway of Epifanio de Los Santos Avenue (EDSA) where more than 300,000 vehicles passed daily through non-moving traffic. Calling it a highway is a misnomer, commuters prefer to call it a parking lot.

It is not difficult to imagine the emission of greenhouse gases from thousands of vehicles moving at a snail’s pace. The sheer volume of vehicles is compounded by the lack of discipline of both drivers and pedestrians. In the Philippines, traffic lights are mere suggestions and jaywalking is the norm.

The American Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines reported that the risk exists that Metro Manila will be unsuitable to live in by 2020 if infrastructure and roads are not upgraded. The country’s own Climate Change Commission recognizes the air pollution caused by road traffic.  The disastrous impact of the traffic crisis is more immediate and real than climate change to many Filipinos. Sadly, commuting for five to six hours each day has become the new normal, including the pollution being created by idle vehicles.

I believe any international funding to address climate change should be contingent upon the Philippine Government solving the traffic crisis.