Friday, March 4, 2011

04-Mar-11, 3:09 PM

MANILA, Philippines - An environmental advocacy group called on government Friday to promote the manufacture and use of electric vehicles and "start the slow but sure transition away from fossil fuel dependence" amidst spiking oil prices, the growing tension in the Middle East and Libya and the worsening impacts of climate change.

In a statement, Red Constantino of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (iCSC), said that, even as the country harnesses its "huge renewable energy resources," it also needs to "scale up solutions we already have, such as electric public vehicles and other sustainable transport alternatives. It's time to confront the jittery oil market with a steady green hand."

Also on Friday, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) carried out tests on electric tricycles, or eTrikes, manufactured by the Alternative Modern Transport group.

The tests were supervised by LTO North Motor Vehicle Inspection Center (NMVIC) chief Engineer Joel Donato, described by the iCSC as an advocate of green transport alternatives.

"Ang matuwid na daan ay malinis na daan (The straight road is also a green road)," the iCSC quoted Donato as saying in a reference to President Benigno Aquino III's campaign promise of good governaqnce.

AMT CEO Ariel Torres said the eTrike models range from P150,000 to P180,000 per unit.

The company has sold over 30 electric jeepneys since 2009 in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, Batangas and the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Around 50 of the eTrikes are now plying Surigao City.

Torres said he aims to increase his group's electric vehicle (EV) deployment tenfold in the next two years.

iCSC said Donato's efforts "help accelerate the green transition of the country."

Constantino said "this is the same reason iCSC has developed rigorous EV testing processes with the National Center for Transport Studies in UP-Diliman."

iCSC helped form the Electric Vehicle Alliance in January, a loose network comprised of civil society groups and members of the private sector and academe. The EVA, with banking institutions, convened a meeting in February designed to set up financing windows for sustainable transport options.

While Constantino said a number of government and private banks were at the meting, "we need top level management to see new revenue streams that can be generated from the expansion of electric vehicle fleets as oil prices skyrocket."

iCSC called on government agencies such as the DOE and DOTC "to respond to the oil and climate crisis with the mentality of a basketball point guard." Constantino said "Transport drivers, operators and private sector members can shoot the ball so long as strategic leadership is provided by the government."

The group is the proponent of the eJeepney project, which has seen the green commuter vehicles deployed in growing numbers in Makati and Puerto Princesa Cities. #

Photo by Avilash Roul .

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