Climate Agenda | Opinion of the applicant

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It took just six hours for Typhoon Karding last month to turn into a supertyphoon, showing how unpredictable storms have become due to climate change. Those in its path weren’t exactly taken aback – previous typhoons have taught them hard lessons – but they were still caught off guard by its intensity. This situation will prevail, with even worse consequences, if the government continues to romanticize Filipino resilience instead of being responsible – and that’s as bad as denying the existence of climate change.

Last October 5, President Marcos Jr. ensured that the country’s resilience and adaptation to the new norms of climate change, which he called “the first truly global crisis”, was at the top of the national agenda. its administration. This policy direction, however, will remain mere rhetoric unless accompanied by concrete programs aimed not only at mitigating the impact of disasters on Filipinos, but also at equipping them with more knowledge and options to avoid death and property damage. These could include livelihood initiatives isolated from extreme weather events and better infrastructure in the form of social housing and permanent evacuation centers across the country.

Based on Global Risk Index 2022, the Philippines ranks as the most disaster-prone country in the world, with an index of 46.82. Every Filipino will have their own disaster story to tell, whether they live in rural or urban areas. Sixty-two percent of the population live in coastal areas, including major cities, where they are likely to suffer the wrath of typhoons. And even those not in coastal areas may instead live along fault lines or in areas where human activities such as logging and mining pose risks to their lives.

Ironically, in a survey conducted by Pulse Asia last month, only 9% of respondents believed that “stopping the destruction and abuse of our environment” was an urgent national issue. Naturally, controlling inflation (66%), increasing workers’ wages (44%), creating jobs (35%), reducing poverty (34%) and fighting corruption and corruption (22%) are vital issues that require urgent government attention, but environmental issues are part of the chain that affects Filipinos’ lives, livelihoods and food security.

In addition to stronger typhoons, climate change is expected to lead to sea level rise and storm surges, the leading cause of death for thousands of people during Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. These climate-related impacts will affect the industries of the agriculture and fisheries and will reduce the productivity of farmers. and fishers impacting the availability and cost of food – which, in fact, is already happening.

Besides the president, his predecessors have also pledged to fight climate change. Just like world leaders. But as Foreign Affairs pointed out in an article published in October last year, decarbonisation – the central goal of climate policies – has remained unchanged despite international agreements over the past three decades. He cited three reasons: the lack of incentives to decarbonise, insufficient investment in low-carbon technologies and the expectation that other countries will act first.

In 2009, the Philippines passed Republic Act No. 9729, or the Climate Change Act, which requires local government units (LGUs) to develop their own Local Climate Change Action Plan (LCCAP). Government data shows that 1,394 out of 1,700 LGUs already have LCCAPs in 2021. This is an impressive increase from just 137 LGUs in 2015 and hopefully indicates progress is being made on the frontline. local.

At the national level, however, the government must address the problem of reliance on fossil fuels to generate electricity and machinery for the transportation and manufacturing industries. The World Bank noted that while the country is a minor contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, it ranks in the top 25% of low- and middle-income countries; emissions from the energy sector are expected to quadruple by 2030, making it even more unlikely that the Philippines will meet its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 75% by then.

The president has promised that his administration’s climate initiatives will be “smarter, more responsible, more sustainable.” It can start by ensuring that existing laws relating to the environment – ​​on reforestation, mining, waste management, clean water, clean air, wildlife conservation, etc. – are properly implemented to help the country do its part for the planet. Because if there is indeed a catastrophe to be avoided, it is a failure of climate policy.

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