Good afternoon. I am honored to have signed today the Emission Reductions Purchase Agreement for the EDSA Bus Reduction Project under the World Bank-managed Carbon Fund for Europe. This is another milestone in our climate change mitigation work in the Philippines following the signing of another agreement with the Land Bank of the Philippines last week on a wholesale or programmatic approach on Clean Development Mechanism, which is the first in the country. This is the 8th agreement signed by the World Bank in the Philippines since we started supporting the carbon finance operation in the country and the second engagement of the World Bank for CDM in the transport sector globally.
As some of you may know, the World Bank is managing a number of carbon fund facilities, which are capitalized by developed countries and private companies to purchase carbon emission reduction credits from developing countries like the Philippines under the CDM of the Kyoto Protocol. The project is consistent with our Country Assistance Strategy for the Philippines in terms of reducing the country’s vulnerabilities to the impacts of climate change through a reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions in key sectors, where transport is one of them.
The project is trailblazing in many aspects and has many positive impacts. The modernization of the traffic management system in EDSA through the use of a proven technology, the so-called Radio Frequency Identification (or RFID) is expected to eliminate the illegal operation and put order into bus operations in EDSA. The new system will reduce the number of buses in transit in EDSA at any given time, reduce if not eliminate queuing at bus stops, thereby alleviating congestion and increasing average travel speed. These will also redound to reduced fuel consumption per passenger per kilometer traveled and thus to reduced emissions of carbon dioxide and local air contaminants, which would contribute to the global fight of reducing GHG emissions.
The majority of Metro Manila residents, who take public transport in EDSA going to work, to school, and in doing business, would benefit from the project. Improvements in traffic flow therefore would enhance the welfare of millions of Filipinos. The project will also contribute to the reduction in outdoor air pollution, which causes sickness in more than 1 million people and premature death of 15,000 people every year in urban centers, with an economic and health cost estimated at more than $20 million per year.
I am particularly pleased to be signing this agreement which, when done successfully, could be replicated in other major cities in the country.
I strongly commend the efforts by MMDA, as well as the strong support from the Philippine authorities. I also would like to acknowledge the important contribution of our fund participant, the Carbon Fund for Europe.
On behalf of the World Bank, and especially those who have worked on this project, I wish the MMDA all the success in implementing the project.
In closing, allow me to say that we are keen on expanding our engagement with the Philippines particularly in improving the efficiency in the transport sector. Our Board has just approved recently the $250 million Clean Technology Fund, a post-Kyoto carbon finance facility that will help support the Government in the areas of efficient sustainable transport and renewable energy.