Taking The Road to Biofuels

July 14th 2007

E nvironmental education is one of the proposed specific solutions to the complex web of environmental problems facing the Filipino today. This was the concluding message of the third CFA Coffeehouse gathering on the theme, Biofuels– Antidote to Climate Change. Ms. Ester Perez de Tagle, chairperson of the Concerned Citizens Against Pollution (COCAP), was the resource person during the forum held last June 22, 2007, at the CFA Auditorium.

Representatives from different sectors like the academe, civil society, government, Church, transport and media came to the forum. In his welcome remarks, Fr. Fil Pelingon, CFA President, emphasized the need to work together for the mitigation of air pollution and its adverse effects on health and the environment. His was an earnest proposal to seriously take up the challenge of adopting biofuels as a very viable and effective means to combat pollution.

The data and statistics-laden presentation by Ms. Ester Perez de Tagle showed two basic forms of biofuels: ethanol and biodiesel. Her call for stewardship in action extolled participants to be involved in environmental issues as these threaten humanity more than they do our physical world. She also emphasized that it is imperative for us to really start empowering the country’s grassroots sector, especially the farmers. If biofuels were to be endorsed, in line with a Filipino-first policy in terms of production of the required biofuels and feedstock, the country would benefit a great deal from it.

The facts presented also triggered conflicting views and lively debate among the audience. One of the more salient features of biodiesel, which is its capacity to prolong the machine life of motor vehicles, was questioned by members of the country’s transport groups. Mr. Carlos Carpio, Head of the Research and Development Extension Branch of the Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), was quick to correct some participants’ misinformation and provide the needed data, particularly on the advantages of biodiesel.

Members of the academe in the audience stressed the need to educate students on the issue through a continuing environmental campaign. Other sectors also took heed of the call for a change in lifestyle, lest we further damage the environment, specially our air. A media group proposed the formation of a committee that can focus on lobbying work in Congress for the adoption of more environmental laws. They also pledged free space in their publications for biofuels advocacy and other environmental concerns. At the close of the forum, it was clear that biofuels advocacy did not end with the passage of the law in 2006. The order of the day is for everyone to take the road to biofuels, in whatever capacity and to whatever extent possible. This way, the tangled realities of climate change, pollution, global warming and economic disenfranchisement can be arrested.

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