Expectations weren’t high that rich nations and developing countries would see eye-to-eye on measures to deal with climate change. The world should just see the climate talks in Copenhagen as another step in eventually forging a global consensus on addressing the problem.
The Philippines and many other nations do not have the luxury of waiting for that global consensus to take shape. This year saw the country suffering from cataclysmic flooding – and facing the prospect of a repeat next year. The floods unleashed by storm “Ondoy” and typhoon “Pepeng” were surely due in part to the consequences of global warming. The country has to do its part now in reducing its carbon footprint, curbing pollution and promoting cleaner, sustainable forms of energy.
Even without the current global focus on climate change, the Philippines already had enough tragic experiences with environmental disasters. The freak flood in Ormoc, Leyte, which killed thousands of residents in the coastal community as they slept, was attributed to the destruction of the city’s watershed through illegal logging. Denuded forests have led to massive landslides that have killed thousands in the past decade, the worst of which was the mudslide in Leyte that buried an entire village.
Polluted air raises health care costs, while polluted waters and the destruction of coral reefs have killed marine resources, endangering the country’s food security and livelihoods in coastal communities. The country is losing many of its indigenous species due to the destruction of natural habitats. Filipinos have long been aware of the costs of neglecting the environment. The rising level of carbon dioxide emissions is just one of these problems.
President Arroyo has blamed rich nations for creating the problem and wants the rich to provide more aid to developing countries to deal with global warming. But experts in turn have also pointed out that booming populations, which the President has refused to address for fear of antagonizing the Catholic Church, is also to blame.
Instead of engaging in the blame game, governments should simply forge ahead with measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and protect all aspects of the environment. Success stories could help forge consensus at the next global climate change summit.