Philippines eyes shift back to cheaper, dirtier fuel to tame inflation

Passengers ride in foot-powered trolleys along a railroad track in Manila, giving locals a cheap and non-pollutive alternative method of transport. (AFP / NOEL CELIS)
Updated 11 August 2018
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Philippines eyes shift back to cheaper, dirtier fuel to tame inflation

MANILA: The Philippines’ energy ministry has told oil companies to sell a cheaper but dirtier type of diesel oil to motorists to fight inflation, backing away from a two-year-old regulation that banned its use to improve air quality.
The energy department’s plan would need clearance from the environment department, which implemented Manila’s switch to cleaner Euro-IV compliant fuels from Euro-II in January 2016, a rule that covered both oil companies and car manufacturers. The department was evaluating the plan, an official said.
The Department of Energy late on Thursday directed that Euro-II compliant automotive diesel oil should be provided as a fuel option for transport and industrial retail customers “for the purpose of reducing the impact of rising petroleum prices in the world market.”
“We’re studying it right now, giving consideration to their plan to cushion inflation. We’re also looking at the implications for emissions,” Environment and Natural Resources Undersecretary Jonas Leones told Reuters on Friday.
Euro-IV fuels have sulfur content of 50 parts per million (ppm) versus 500 ppm for Euro-II fuels.
Petron Corp, the Philippines’ top refiner, was studying the impact of the energy department’s plan which it only received on Thursday night, a spokesman for the company said. Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp, the local unit of Royal Dutch Shell PLC, was checking into the matter, a spokeswoman said.
Philippine annual inflation climbed to its highest in more than five years at 5.7 percent in July, prompting the central bank to raise interest rates for a third time this year on Thursday.
Along with the switch back to Euro II-fuels, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi also ordered the government’s Philippine National Oil Company-Exploration Corp. to import “low-priced petroleum products, particularly diesel, to mitigate the impact of volatile oil prices.”


Indian court eases firecracker ban even as pollution soars

Updated 7 min 18 sec ago
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Indian court eases firecracker ban even as pollution soars

  • Diwali festival is on November 7
  • Every winter, air pollution in Delhi soars as cooler air traps harmful particles from the various emissions

NEW DELHI: India’s top court on Tuesday eased a ban on fireworks for a major Hindu festival despite air pollution in New Delhi and other cities again reaching danger levels.
The Supreme Court, which last year banned firecrackers for the Diwali festival, rejected a new call for a ban in the capital amidst growing concern over pollution.
Firecrackers set off for the Hindu festival of lights add to the toxic mix created by farmers burning crop stubble, diesel engines, coal-fired power plants and industrial emissions.
The World Health Organization in May listed 14 Indian cities, including Delhi, in the world’s top 15 with the dirtiest air.
Ahead of Diwali on November 7, the Supreme Court ordered that only reduced smoke fireworks — so-called ‘green firecrackers’ — could be sold and that this must be through licensed traders. No fireworks can be sold online, it said.
The court has also set a two hour window from 8:00pm to 10:00pm for the lighting of crackers on Diwali.
“It needs to be enforced strictly,” Gopal Sankarnarayan, a lawyer for the petitioners told NDTV television.
Last year, the Supreme Court suspended the licenses of all firecracker sellers in Delhi for one month because of the pollution crisis which leaves the Indian capital’s 20 million residents gasping for clean air during the winter months.
However, many ignored the ban and purchased crackers illegally or brought out old stocks.
Every winter, air pollution in Delhi soars as cooler air traps harmful particles from the various emissions.
Smog has climbed in recent weeks as temperatures have fallen and smoke from burning wheat fields in neighboring states has reached the capital, mingling with urban pollutants.