The Philippines is set to adopt a ban on all non-essential travel in the coming months, as it tries to crack down on the growing pollution in its overcrowded cities.
The Philippines’ environment minister said the move is designed to help curb the country’s spiraling pollution, which has caused the deaths of more than 40,000 people in the past year.
The government will ban all nonessential travel for the next seven days from Tuesday, the Philippine Star reported on Monday.
“We have a mandate to do what’s necessary to address the issue of pollution and pollution-related incidents.
We will implement a strict environmental law,” Environment Secretary Eugenio Galvez said.
“The environment is our first line of defense,” Galvez added.
“It’s important for us to keep our promises and protect the environment.”
The ban on non-emergency travel will affect those who have booked flights, said Philippine Ambassador to London, Paul Estrada.
He said travel by commercial and private companies will be allowed, but that people with no business to do would have to return home.
“All those who are not able to do business are allowed to return to the Philippines,” Estradas statement said.
The ban has already prompted protests from the government, with some protesters blocking roads.
“If this is really what you want, go ahead and get off the plane,” protester Raul Galindez said, holding up a sign saying “go back to where you came from.”
The Philippines has been struggling to deal with the effects of climate change for decades, as its population grows.
In 2015, the government said it would phase out coal-fired power plants by 2030, and has since pledged to reduce emissions.
A government poll earlier this month showed that a majority of Filipinos support the country moving away from coal and toward renewable energy.
In the past, the Philippines has struggled with pollution, as well as air quality.
A report published in January found that pollution from power plants exceeded the World Health Organization’s limit for PM10s.
In May, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that the government would ban all motor vehicles with no more than three people in them from entering the country.