Philippines - Climate Change
The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the potential impacts of climate change. In the Global Climate Risk Index of Germanwatch, the Philippines ranked fifth with respect to the long-term Climate Risk Index (CRI) for the period of 1994 to 2014. In terms of the 2013 CRI, the Philippines is identified as the most affected country (ranked 1st).
The World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) considers the Philippines as one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change. Impacts range from extreme weather events and periodic inundation to droughts and food shortages. Climate change is a topic which many Filipinos are aware of and had to deal with. The most affected are those living in coastal communities and urban communities that lack awareness on proper disaster preparedness procedures.
A United Nations report identified the Philippines as the third most at risk country in the world from climate change after Vanuatu and Tonga. The country is prone to climate change as an island located in an area where there are many tropical storms. Another geographical factor which contributes to its vulnerability is wind patterns which can worsen the risk created by extreme rainfall events. The country averages eight to nine tropical storms each year and is expected to increase in severity due to climate change.
Most of the damage comes from rising sea levels. Ecosystems such as mangrove forests which serve as as mangrove forests which serve as sanctuaries and feeding grounds for fish could be gone. Mangroves also serve as a buffer by reducing typhoons and storm wind damage. Wildlife will be pushed to extinction since national parks would no longer be able to preserve the habitat for the wildlife.
The country is vulnerable to such changes whether these arise as a result of natural forces such as the eruption of Mt Pinatubo or as a consequence of a change in climate induced by emissions of greenhouse gases. Consequently, dimate change issues and impacts are of great concern to the Philippimes which has long been a leading voice among developing countries in relevant international fora.
Climate change will worsen the country’s water problems. These changes in the water supply and quality due to climate changes are expected to affect food and human security along with the economy, as water control and adaptive measures are not robust enough to handle the impacts of climate change. Food production will be adversely affected during certain periods of the year and securing supplies will become vital.
Models predict a general increase in water availability for most parts of the country. Scenario models predict an overall increase in river flows and river flow variability for most basins, with higher flow magnitudes and flow variability, while an increase in peak flow return periods is predicted for the middle and southern parts of the country during the wet season. However, in the north, the prognosis is for an increase in peak flow return periods for both wet and dry seasons. These findings suggest a general increase in water availability for agriculture, however, there is also the increased threat of flooding and enhanced soil erosion throughout the country.
Monsoon rainfall in the Philippines will reach new highs and lows. Some parts of the country will experience an upward trend in rainfall while other parts will experience an intensification of drought. These two extreme poles of weather will make it more difficult for agriculture and aquaculture sectors which are highly dependent on weather. Philippine cities are already experiencing unprecedented amounts of rainfall. In Tacloban City, rainfall increased by 257% from 1998 to 2011. More rainfall will lead to more flooding and can trigger landslides in upland communities.
As the climate gets warmer, heavier rainstorms are expected to happen more often, and tropical storms around the world could keep getting stronger. These storms can cause flooding; damage buildings, roads, and other structures; harm crops; and put people's lives in danger. Tropical storms get their energy from warm ocean water. As the top layer of the ocean gets warmer, tropical storms grow stronger, with faster winds and heavier rain.
This can lead to more powerful storms because storms get their strength from heat rising from the sea. In the Philippines, 4 and 5 degree Celsius spikes above the normal sea surface temperature have been recorded. Warmer seas kill coral reefs and can thus lead to a decline in fish catch, putting food security in danger.
The shift in the Ph levels of the ocean can lead to widespread coral reef death. Because of the imbalance, shrimps are not able to develop skins, oysters cannot develop shells. Fish larvae may not be able to develop bones. This further endangers food security and the livelihood of fishermen.
There is some evidence that changes in the seasonal pattern of precipitation (i.e. a move towards wetter wet seasons and drier dry seasons) is harmful for agriculture and exacerbates civil conflict in the Philippines. Some analysis shows that that this effect cannot be explained by psychological or infrastructure-related mechanisms, which suggests that agriculture is an important mechanism that mediates the effect of climate change on civil conflict. In addition, there is new [as of 2014] evidence that an increase in the value of export crops - such as bananas and sugar - can lead to an increase in conflict violence and territorial control by non-government armed groups.
In 2009, the Philippine Congress passed the Climate Change Act which provides policy framework to address the rising threats to the impacts on the environment. The act created the Climate Change Commission (CCC) to develop policies and coordinate government programs on climate change. The CCC developed the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) 2011-2028 that acts as a road map for all climate change programs in the Philippines. The plan prioritizes food security, water sufficiency, ecosystem and environmental stability, human security, and sustainable energy.
In 2016 the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) planned to invest as much as $24.7 million as part of the “Climate Ready” project to help the Philippines adapt to rising sea-levels and extreme weather caused by climate change. Individual awards were limited to $2 million.
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