‘Greenhouse accounting’ monitors carbon-burning by Aboitiz employees

By Wilfredo Rodolfo III, Business Mirror

Posted at Feb 17 2009 02:41 AM | Updated as of Feb 17 2009 10:41 AM

As the effects of global warming become more and more apparent, a local power company is establishing a unique way of helping the environment.

Listed company Aboitiz Power Corp. is in the middle of a process unique to most companies—greenhouse accounting.

“In the course of doing daily business, people are actually burning carbon,” AP’s Cleanergy brand manager Margaret Ann Gravador said. “By knowing how much we burn, we can make steps in lessening it.”

The company created its greenhouse brigade and has since started accounting all their activities that burn carbon, from business trips, to commuting to and from the office, to power consumption in offices even trash generation.

“Before, we just plant trees, but now [through greenhouse accounting] we can quantify how many hectares of trees we need to have to offset our emissions,” Gravador said.

Based on preliminary data, the company has discovered that one company employee making five round trips from the company’s base in Cebu to Manila where it does most of business, emits one ton of carbon into the atmosphere.

Put into perspective, 1 hectare of fully grown acacia trees can absorb 18.77 tons of carbon a year. A hectare of coconuts can also absorb some 192 tons of carbon a year.

Greenhouse accounting is relatively new to the Philippines, which has no emission limits as set by the Kyoto protocol being a developing country. In highly developed countries, however, greenhouse accounting is being practiced by industries and even on the national level.

After the establishment of the baseline data at AP, the company is set to implement measures to lessen its carbon emissions— power conservation, transport efficiency and the traditional tree-planting activities.

It is also set to offset its carbon emissions by producing more renewable energy, through its investments in hydroelectric and geothermal -power generation projects.

Currently, Aboitiz Power comprises 9 percent of the country’s total power production capacity. Its biggest power production comes from geothermal- power sources at 44 percent, followed by hydroelectric generation (33 percent) and 15 percent from coal and diesel plants.

The company has also ventured into clean development mechanism projects, selling carbon credits produced by its renewable-power plants for First World countries to offset their emissions. The Sibulan power plant by subsidiary Hedcor was the first project in the Philippines that has been listed by the United Nations as a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project, while SN Aboitiz has applied for a CDM certification for its expansion of the Binga generation plant.

“It is a lifestyle change for our company and our people,” Gravador said. “Surprisingly, many employees still have not heard of the term ‘climate change.’ This is a start.”