Congress action on climate change sought


Posted at May 20 2015 10:11 PM | Updated as of May 21 2015 06:11 AM

MANILA -- A climate policy group on Wednesday released a report urging the House of Representatives to act on climate change threatening the country.

Commissioned by the the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), the report focused on the effects of slow onset climate change.

Regina Abuyuan, who was commissioned to produce the report, noted "the stark difference" between climate-change induced episodic disasters, which Filipinos are more familiar with, versus slow onset events.

According to the report, the latter involves rising sea levels and increased or reduced precipitation that does not lead to severe flooding or extreme drought, but which could permanently decimate entire agricultural regions in the long run.

"Yet we know so little about the issue. The utter paucity of data, research initiatives, and instruments that can model, measure and synthesize information that can indicate the array of responses that need to be deployed is seriously worrying," Abuyuan said.

Director General Romulo Emmanuel Miral, Jr., of the Congressional Policy Budget and Research Department, the Congress' policy think tank, described the report as "timely and urgent."

"The Slow Onset Climate Impacts report will prove central to helping the House formulate a far more climate-responsive national budget," he added.

According to Abuyuan, the Filipino scientists she interviewed share the call for Congress action on the issue.

"Filipino scientists and authorities I interviewed shared the same call. Research, research, and more research. Work with institutions in the frontline of the climate crisis, such as state universities. Congress needs to increase the country’s budget for climate change research by several magnitudes, and it needs to support our scientists so they can provide timely, scientific advice to local governments."

For AKO BICOL party list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, chair of the House Special Committee on Climate Change, the report served as an eye-opener for lawmakers to understand climate change.

"The current fixation on extreme weather events will only exacerbate the country’s growing vulnerabilities, because we see only half of the danger. We are unaware of the extent of our exposure, and we cannot act wisely if we do not know which, where and how slow onset climate impacts will harm the country. The report is sobering and cannot be ignored," he added.

"Congress needs to understand the urgency of slow onset impacts. It may lack the drama of calamities but, unabated, it will put at serious risk the country’s food security, biodiversity, ecosystems, and culture, posing potentially irreparable loss and damage to infrastructure, human lives and the very viability of the country’s economy," said Tarlac Second District Rep. Susan Yap, vice-chairpeson of the committee.

ICSC led the crafting and passage of the People’s Survival Fund (PSF), or Republic Act 10174. Passed in 2012, the PSF law established the country’s first legislated finance mechanism dedicated to supporting the adaptation programs of localities.