Managing air quality beyond COVID-19

On March 16, 2020, transportation and industries ground to a near halt in Metro Manila as the government enforced an “enhanced community quarantine” (ECQ) in the country’s busiest metropolis. The lockdown was only one of the many across the globe that was implemented in an effort to slow down the spread of COVID-19. With the majority of the metro’s 2.5 million fossil fuel reliant motor vehicles off the road, air quality in the city was visibly improving. In fact, within less than 10 days, an air monitoring laboratory recorded a 180% decrease in PM2.5 since the start of the ECQ. But two months later on May 16, with the easing of quarantine regulations and the return of motor vehicles around the capital brought on by the modified ECQ (MECQ), air pollution is gradually making a comeback. Every year, air pollution from fossil fuels takes millions of lives, increases risk to strokes, lung cancer and asthma, and costs the country trillions of dollars in economic losses. Filipinos have long been bearing the brunt of climate impacts, as well as health and economic impacts of dirty air.

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