Climate change vulnerability

Climate change vulnerability

How often indeed have weather experts say that the Philippines is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, including sea-level rise, increased frequency of extreme weather events, rising temperatures, and extreme rainfall.

This is due to its high exposure to natural hazards (cyclones, landslides, floods, droughts), dependence on climate-sensitive natural resources, and vast coastlines where all of its major cities and the majority of the population reside.

A rich yet increasingly depleted natural and marine resources base supports livelihoods through fisheries, agriculture, forestry, energy, mining, and tourism and provides critical ecosystem services such as shoreline protection, flood control, soil stability, and habitats for biodiversity.

In the Philippines more than half of greenhouse gas emissions come from the energy sector, followed by agriculture, industrial processes, waste, land-use change, and forestry.

There is a report titled Getting a Grip on Climate Change in the Philippines that looks at the innovations as well as gaps in policy and financing of climate change programs since the country adopted the Climate Change Act four years ago.

The report – done at the request of, and in close collaboration with the Climate Change Commission and the Department of Budget and Management – provides detailed analysis and recommendations on how the country could accelerate reforms for managing the growing climate change impacts and increasing greenhouse gas emissions while contributing to poverty reduction.

The report provides recommendations along three themes:

• Strengthening the planning, execution, and financing framework for climate change;

• Enhancing leadership and accountability through monitoring, evaluation, and review of climate change policies and activities; and

• Building the country’s capacity and managing change

The report also underscores that while the government builds resilience to climate change impacts, it should also ensure that the country’s emissions of greenhouse gases (e.g. methane and carbon dioxide) remain in check.

Though a minor contributor to climate change globally, the Philippines’ greenhouse gas emissions rank in the top 25 percent among low- and middle-income countries, with significant increases projected in the coming decades. Emissions from the energy sector are projected to quadruple by 2030, with the transport sector expected to double its emissions.

A CCC official has said “Policymakers have put in place comprehensive sets of policies, programs, and institutions for dealing with climate change. This important report helps put greater focus into our work as we try to make our communities safer from and the people less vulnerable to sea-level rise and extreme weather events like strong typhoons, floods and storm surges, among other impacts.”
Thirteen years back, or in 2009, Congress passed the Climate Change Act creating the CCC to develop policies and coordinate government programs on climate change.
Officials at the time said appropriations for climate change programs had been increasing at an average of 26 percent yearly since 2009, outpacing the growth of the national budget which was growing at around 6 percent.
“Climate change has a direct and immediate impact on development.

As it stood, the Philippines was already in the path of major weather disturbances that damage property and critical infrastructure.

More urgent however is the fact that these weather patterns frequently jeopardize the welfare of communities in high-risk areas.

In the past, the World Bank launched a global report titled Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience.

The study says that climate change-related impacts were projected to increase in the coming decades, threatening in particular:
• Coastal populations: Climate change is expected to lead to more intense typhoons, higher sea levels, and storm surges.

Storm surges are projected to affect about 14 percent of the total population and 42 percent of coastal populations. Informal settlements, which account for 45 percent of the Philippines’ urban population, are particularly vulnerable to floods due to less secure infrastructure, reduced access to clean water, and lack of health insurance.

• Farming and fishing: Climate-related impacts are expected to reduce agricultural productivity in the Philippines. Also, warming oceans and ocean acidification affect coral reefs which serve as feeding and spawning grounds for many fish species that support the livelihoods of fisher folks.

Also at that time, World Bank officials said implementing the country’s climate change programs with increased financing, improved design, and greater focus and coordination contributes significantly to the country’s development goals.

They said promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency, for instance, boosts energy security and can lower energy costs, thus improving the country’s competitiveness. In agriculture, adaptation activities like conserving water and improving water quality will enhance food security.

“Labor-intensive activities like developing climate-resilient farming and retrofitting infrastructure for flood control will build resilience while increasing job opportunities, especially for the poor. Climate change adaptation is very important in achieving inclusive growth,” one said. (ai/mtvn)

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