Climate wake-up call


The latest report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) continues to draw reactions from Philippine-based nongovernment organizations days after its release.

Citing the record-breaking climate change-triggered extreme weather events that threaten the global community, they say the report paints the grim scenario of the future is compelling enough to scale up mitigation efforts, bearing in mind the country’s vulnerability to natural disasters and its lack of capacity to recover quickly from their disastrous impacts.

Power for People Coalition convener
Gerry Arances: “Science is clear that our reckless dependence on fossil fuels is to blame for it, and this report invalidates any remaining excuse to keep using dirty energy if we wish to avert even more unthinkable consequences.”

Decisive action

The Climate Change Commission (CCC), the lead policy-making body tasked to  supervise government programs and ensure mainstreaming of climate change in national, local and sectoral development plans, said the IPCC report “should serve as a wake-up call not only for the Philippines, but also for all countries and world leaders to take decisive action on increasing warming temperatures to protect the planet and future generations from such previously unimaginable scenarios.”

The CCC believes that the substantial and consistent reductions in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse-gas emissions, such as methane, indeed have the capacity to influence the future direction of climate.

“While improvements in air quality would be immediate, global temperature stabilization might take 20 to 30 years,” the CCC pointed out.

According to the CCC, the world must go considerably further to keep the 1.5 challenge alive, adding that such will require a concerted set of policies, including phasing out coal for power generation and committing to not opening or financing any new coal-fired power stations; providing developing countries with better support to deliver clean energy; reforming the global trade in agricultural commodities to help farmers make a better living while forests are protected; and last but not least, for loss and damage policies to be set in place to support adaptation initiatives, in line with mobilizing long-term finance.

‘Change the ending’

WORLD WIDE Fund for Nature-Philippines, for its part, showed that the report card of human response to the climate crisis shows that “We are failing life as we know it unless we act now and we act together.”

“The new report continues to paint an alarming picture of what we are already seeing as impacts of the climate crisis at global warming of around 1.1˚C. For a vulnerable country such as the Philippines, as the temperature needle moves toward 1.5˚C, we will experience increasing dangers to our people and our ecosystems—increasing frequency and the intensity of extreme weather events such as typhoons, floods and drought, sea-level rise, among others,” Executive Director Katherine Custodio said.

Lawyer Angela Ibay, WWF Climate and
Energy Programme head: “We have very
little time, so we need to act now.”

Lawyer Angela Ibay, Climate and Energy Programme head, said: “We have very little time, so we need to act now. We have to scale up action in both adaptation and mitigation and to implement our commitments under the Paris Agreement to be consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5˚C. These include protection of and investing in nature, ramping up the clean-energy transition through renewables and energy efficiency, revamping our food, water, energy, and even finance systems to value nature as part of the life sustainability equation. We can still—and must—change the ending.”

‘Need to be proactive’

NAZRIN Castro, branch manager of The Climate Reality Project Philippines, commenting on the new IPCC report, noted that every region across the globe is already experiencing the adverse impacts of human-induced climate change.

She said that the Philippines couldn’t afford to be passive in addressing the threat of a sea-level rise in the country.

“It may not be as dramatic as extreme weather events like typhoons, but it will have devastating consequences on our coastal communities—where more than half of the Filipino population is residing,” she said.

“With millions of Filipinos at risk, we must be proactive by putting in place appropriate adaptation strategies and programs that will protect, as well as enable, coastal communities to thrive amid the long-term prospects of higher sea levels,” she said.

Swift coal, fossil fuel exit

ON Tuesday, the Power for People Coalition (P4P) urged Philippine energy policymakers and authorities to heed the latest climate science findings unveiled by IPCC, prioritize the country’s move away from coal and other fossil fuels and transition to renewables in energy planning directions and climate commitments.

“The IPCC’s latest report affirms something climate-vulnerable Filipinos already know: that the climate crisis is upon us. It will continue to impose suffering on communities and life systems globally. Science is clear that our reckless dependence on fossil fuels is to blame for it, and this report invalidates any remaining excuse to keep using dirty energy if we wish to avert even more unthinkable consequences,” Gerry Arances, convener of P4P, said.

He stressed that no nation in the world has any business introducing more fossil fuels into its energy mix.

“Our country already placed the survival of Filipinos in peril with decades of obsession with coal, and the only responsible way forward is to throw any notion of technology neutrality into the fire. The Department of Energy, assisted by all other government bodies, must completely cancel all remaining coal in the national pipeline while keeping the rise of gas and other fossil fuels at bay,” Arances said.

The clean energy and climate justice advocacy groups also urged authorities to be guided by findings of the report in upcoming climate negotiations in November.

Higher ambition

Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, for its part, said the report could not have come at a more opportune time.

Rodne Galicha, convener of Aksyon Klima Pilipinas, said the calls for higher ambition and climate justice continue to grow stronger globally.

However, he said, current pledges of all governments would only lead to a 1-percent reduction in emissions, falling way short of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

“The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has provided a living preview of the scale of disruptions and losses that more extreme climate changes can inflict on countries, and lessons that governments, businesses, civil society groups and communities can learn from to avoid any more disasters of this magnitude,” Galicia said.

Science-based climate action

THE group issued several recommendations, including the enhancement of science-based approaches in climate action by the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change by welcoming the IPCC report.

Moreover, the group said developed countries with the highest GHG emissions should increase and deliver their emissions reductions targets in their respective Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and pay their “climate debt”
to vulnerable nations through the provision of means of implementation, such as climate finance, technology development and transfer, and capacity-building, in forms aligned with upholding climate justice.

The group added that the Philippine government should also finalize the country’s decarbonization pathway toward achieving its NDC goal of reducing GHG emissions by 75 percent within the current decade, including the phaseout of coal-fired power plants and initiating a just transition to renewable energy.

“It is not our intent to sound like a prophet of doom, yet as much as we have experienced the brunt of the climate crisis, the worst could still be coming. We call for urgent, just and effective climate action now,” Galicha said.

A challenge amid Covid

DENISE M. Fontanilla, Associate for Policy Advocacy Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, said the IPCC report is a signal to all countries to do their share to address the climate crisis.

Despite its limited resources further stretched by the impact of the pandemic, the Philippines is nevertheless compelled to squarely face the climate challenge.

“Findings from the IPCC report show that extreme weather events in Southeast Asia will increase in frequency and intensity. The Philippines, apart from weather extremes, will further be threatened by the increase in the sea surface temperatures, sea-level rise, and ocean acidification, which in turn will have adverse effects on agriculture, fisheries, food security, and even health and nutrition,” she said.

Act now!

HOWEVER, she said, there’s time and by acting now, the country can do something.

“It will be a very difficult path for us, especially being in the frontlines of climate impacts. We may already have plans in line, but the lack of fine points on implementation is extremely concerning,” she said.

Finally, she said that with the upcoming elections next year, it is vital that climate action transcend political terms and administrations.

“Our policymakers and economic managers must focus on more inclusive and more responsive programs that meet the challenges of the climate crisis head-on while marshaling scarce resources in order to establish effective strategies that encourage ever greater public participation. Everything counts, everyone matters,” she said.

Image courtesy of Wisconsinart |

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