PH needs to adapt to climate change, pursue mitigation: World Bank report

Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 09 2022 08:14 PM

Climate activists picket in front of the Asian Development Bank headquarters during its 55th Annual Meeting in Mandaluyong City on September 29, 2022. The protesters called on the ADB to stop financing energy projects using fossil fuels and peddling false solutions to the climate crisis. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Climate activists picket in front of the Asian Development Bank headquarters during its 55th Annual Meeting in Mandaluyong City on September 29, 2022. The protesters called on the ADB to stop financing energy projects using fossil fuels and peddling false solutions to the climate crisis. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News


MANILA - In order for the Philippines to reach its goal of becoming a “high-income economy by 2045”, it needs to adopt measures to mitigate the effects of climate change.

This is based on the recently launched Philippines Country Climate and Development Report (CCDR) by the World Bank and presented during the ongoing COP27 in Egypt.

The Philippines CCDR analyzed “how climate change will affect the country’s ability to meet its development goals”.

The study’s key findings include: that “climate change poses major risks for development in the Philippines; Policy inaction would impose substantial economic and human costs especially for the poor; but the country “has many options to address climate change which could significantly reduce its impact”.

“Let me quickly go back to the science and the magnitude of the threat posed by climate change in the Philippines-- this is not theoretical, it is happening,” Benoit Bosquet, East Asia and Pacific Regional Director of the World Bank, said.

“Temperatures in the Philippines have been rising and they're predicted to rise by another one to three degrees Celsius over the course of this century,” he said.

THE REALITY

To illustrate, the report showed how climate change can affect crops and ultimately the livelihood of Filipinos.

“The productivity of many agricultural crops will decline and obviously rain fed crops will be the most affected. Look at about 5% reduction in the yields of rice and sugar cane, but potentially as much as 20% for maize across the three main regions. What does this mean? (It means) lower agricultural production will affect the well-being of the farmers, many of whom are poor," Bosquet said.

"And because this is going to lead to higher food prices, it will affect the well-being of all Filipinos and especially the poor who spend a greater part of their income on food,” he added.

Even by “conservative assumptions”, the effect of climate change will result in the reduction of gross domestic product by “5.7 to 7.5%” by year 2040.

“The sensitivity to typhoons, this could actually be much worse. Everybody will be affected by climate change… But the poor will suffer the most. The poorest households will in fact see, may see their consumption fall by almost 9%. This is very, very significant, and this means that adaptation is the key priority for the Philippines,” Bosquet said in his presentation.

ADAPTATION

But the Philippines can “substantially reduce” the effects of climate change thru adaptation.

“Adaptation means reducing the risk and damage from extreme events again typhoons and super typhoons. But adaptation also means reducing the risk from slow onset events like rising temperatures or sea level rise," said Bosquet.

"In fact, economic losses could be reduced by 2/3 by mid-century. And because everybody would suffer from climate change, everybody would also benefit from adaptation to climate change. And here, too, the poor would benefit the most,” he added.

How? One is by providing incentives.

“As most actions will need to be undertaken by the private sector, making sure that the incentives are right is critical… For example, using environmental taxes to discourage harmful activities, providing direct support to climate smart actions, and providing clear information on the cost of climate change and the benefits of climate action," Bosquet said.

"This is particularly important for the Philippines where the local government units do not have sufficient information to make the right decisions."

Another is “enhancing the capabilities of local government units to design and implement climate actions and focusing on effective implementation of existing plans and regulations”, and helping people cope with the adaptation.

“(It) will substantially reduce the impact of climate change on the people of the Philippines but it will not completely be eliminated. And so it's important that the poor and vulnerable people receive the means to cope and in particular through good adaptive social protection to provide targeted relief to those who are affected,” Bosquet said.

“The Philippines, we need to take action to avoid worsening the problem. Let's not continue to build where floods are happening and keep happening,” he advised.

Lawyer and environmentalist Dr. Tony La Viña, who is at the COP27 and served as one of the speakers, expressed his appreciation of the findings.

“I think many countries will benefit from the template that you use in developing this report. The research is solid… I do encourage this to be done regularly by by the World Bank, maybe every three to five years to do this,” he said.

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