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Global targets are failing, and why climate change is dangerous to the Philippines

By Tanya Lara Published Apr 22, 2021 5:42 pm

A 2017 study by Climate Links, a global knowledge portal for climate and development practitioners, said 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.”

Prepared under the Climate Change Adaptation of the USAID, the document continued that due to the country’s geography, it is highly exposed to natural disasters such as typhoons, landslides, floods and droughts.

The country is also dependent on “climate-sensitive natural resources and vast coastlines where all major cities and the majority of the population reside.”

Time magazine in a 2013 story called the Philippines “the most exposed country in the world to tropical storms.”

As such, climate change resulting in extreme weather, especially between May and October, cause agricultural devastation and pose a threat to the country’s food security. With every super typhoon, we lose not just lives but agricultural crops. The damage is not just to buildings and personal property but to the nation’s food sources.

In 2019, 29 tropical storms and 17 typhoons were recorded, along with five unofficial super typhoons. Damage was estimated at $34.14 billion (P1.6 trillion).

“Sea levels in the Philippines are rising faster than the global average, increasing the hazard posed by storm surges and threatening permanent inundation of low-lying areas,” according to the Climate Links study. “ 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.”

There’s only Planet A. 

Ahead of Earth Day on April 22, Department of Environment and Natural Resources  (DENR) Secretary Roy A. Cimatu urged local government units (LGUs) “to pursue investments in the Risk Resiliency Program (RRP) to boost the country’s preparedness in mitigating the impact of climate change,” according to Philippine News Agency (PNA).

According to the DENR, “70% of cities in the country are already dealing with the effects of climate change.”

“These impacts threaten to undermine decades of developmental milestones. Only through integrating climate and disaster risks, as well as potential opportunities into our development planning and budget can we build resilient and sustainable societies," Cimatu said.

Vulnerable areas include Masbate, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Apayao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Negros Oriental, Western Samar, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Southern Leyte, Siquijor, Sarangani, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, Dinagat Islands, Zamboanga del Norte, Bukidnon, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao, Sulu, Lanao del Sur, Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, Metro Iloilo, and Metro Davao.

Most major companies failing climate targets—study

A story by Agence France Presse (AFP) cites a study saying “fewer than one in four of the world’s largest companies are on track to meet basic climate change targets, according to a new study published today, April 22.”

The British investment firm Arabesque said just under a quarter (24.84 percent) of the world’s large listed companies have taken action to limit global warming to 1.5 Celsius. 

Polar bears trapped on ice floe in Norwegian Arctic waters. 

European companies are the best performers, particularly in Sweden (50 percent), Germany (39.29 percent) and Finland (33.33 percent).  France is just behind (32.5 percent), followed by Britain and the United States (both on 23.08 percent). China (8.51 percent) and Australia (4.55 percent) trail behind.”

“But the study found that 15 percent of the companies listed on leading indices including the FTSE 100, S&P 100, DAX and Nikkei do not publish their greenhouse gas emissions.  The proportion even increases to 29 percent for the Chinese Hang Seng.”

The 2015 Paris Agreement seeks to limit global warming at 2.0 degrees Celsius (5.4 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, and if possible, no more than 1.5 Celsius. This target is proving difficult to achieve but 70%  of firms are expected to meet the 2.0-degree figure by 2030.

“Declarations of good intention by themselves are not going to lead to the required timely actions,” said Arabesque chairman Georg Kell. “In fact, despite the growing number of commitments, average carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have increased since 2015.  This year is a potential turning point, offering corporate leaders a chance to think big and to act accordingly. But time is running out.” (With a report from AFP)