News & Insights

Net Zero Summit Philippines 2023

The ripple effect of climate change has grown exponentially over the past decades, and this has led to an increasingly alarming rate of negatively impacted communities worldwide. The world responded with the creation of the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty that seeks to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees and mitigate climate change. The Philippines, being one of the signatories, has committed to reducing and avoiding carbon emissions by 75% by 2030.

The Net Zero Building and Net Zero City Summit, held last January 10, 2023, at Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati, was one of the country’s responses to a worldwide call to net zero, which seeks to reduce global anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to as close to zero. The summit, with the theme “Building Resilient Cities: Addressing Climate Risk and Reaching Net Zero,” was led by the ESCOM Group of Events and Global Zero Carbon Partnership in collaboration with the Department of Energy (DoE), Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), and the Philippine Green Building Council (PHILGBC). Over 300 thought leaders graced the event, one of which is Ar. Felino A. Palafox, Jr., who was a panelist for the session “Building Resilient, Net Zero, and Sustainable Cities.”

Ar. Palafox zeroed in on building resilient and sustainable cities by incorporating green architecture and vertical urbanism to reach net zero. He posed this as a challenge after citing Metro Manila as a region that is “no longer sustainable.” Along with the urban sprawl in the metro are large single homes that incur large carbon footprints. Thus, the call for the government and large corporations, among others, to “walk their talk, being the exemplar and not the exempted.” “Green building starts with the Malacañang Palace and the Department of Energy,” he added. Several speakers shared the same sentiments about the government’s half-hearted efforts in reducing GHG emissions. Therefore, it is for the local government and national government to lead by example to accelerate the Philippines to net zero by 2050.

Ar. Palafox also cited active transportation such as walking and biking, progressive infrastructure, and ease of transactions (i.e., no corruption, no red tape) as significant solutions to address Metro Manila’s and other cities’ biggest challenge on connectivity. These are all anchored on the 3 P's of sustainability: people first or social equity, Planet Earth or the environment, and profit or economic progress. Mr. Karthik Karkal, Head of Strategy and Planning for SM PRIME Holdings, Inc., echoed Ar. Palafox’s thoughts on our “cities lacking access to open space,” further emphasizing each city as a steward of nature and ecosystem services.

Meanwhile, Mr. Salvador Tan (AVP – Architect and Urban Planner for Ayala Land, Inc.) asked the audience to take a closer look at the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. These are factors to consider, and though the entire process takes time, “it will be worth it in the end.” As Mr. Noel Argamosa (Head of Network Energy, Environment, Health and Safety for Smart Communications, Inc.) put it, people need to “collaborate and demand for a balanced planet.”

Also featured during the summit were notable industry leaders who showcased the progress they made on their commitments to reducing GHGs. Among them were the following: 1) ArthaLand Corporation, which takes pride in its 32-storey ArthaLand Century Pacific Tower located in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig as the world’s first certified Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies (EDGE) Zero Carbon building; 2) Holcim, being the leader in cement, concrete, and aggregates production that has championed circular economy with the promotion of their ECOPlanet green cement that has 30% less carbon dioxide compared to regular cement; 3) Via Verde located in Brgy. San Vicente in Sto. Tomas, Batangas is the country’s first solar-powered mass housing community, with its home models as the country’s first recipient of the EDGE Certificate; 4) Arcadis Philippines, being one of the leading net zero drivers, is focused on the pursuit of decarbonization as cited in the Arcadis Sustainable Cities Index 2022; and 5) Ayala Land, Inc., being the catalyst for a net-zero transition in the country.

Other topics discussed were: 1) Net Zero Carbon Buildings Commitment in the Philippines; 2) Circular Economy in Buildings, Cities, and Regions; 3) Green and Thriving Neighborhood: A Pathway to Net Zero; and 4) ESG as a Value Driver for Real Estate.

Collectively, these thought leaders and decision makers called for a more concrete government action to further cement the country’s Net Zero Roadmap. Citing Ms. Katherine Ann Resurreccion, Associate Director of Arcadis Philippines, “we are at a critical decade for climate change,” quoting the words of Greta Thunberg: “I want you to act as if the house is on fire, because it is.”

Photo caption:

From left to right: Mr. Ricardo Lagdameo, Arch. Felino Palafox, Jr., Ms. Maricris Ysmael Aldover, Arch. Salvador Tan, Mr. Noel Argamosa, and Mr. Raymond Rufino