Urgent climate action needed amid typhoons

Louise Maureen Simeon - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The government must deal with the climate crisis with urgency following the consecutive typhoons that hit the Philippines which submerged communities, claimed lives and exposed the country to much greater risks.

In a span of weeks, the country was hit by consecutive typhoons including the world’s strongest for the year, Rolly, and just recently Ulysses, which caused severe flooding and submerged many parts of Luzon.

At least four more typhoons may enter the Philippines before 2020 ends. All these while everyone is dealing with the coronavirus disease pandemic.

Think-tank Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED) said that the devastation of Ulysses is yet another taste of what the climate emergency brings about due to the incessant burning of fossil fuels, reckless disregard for natural barriers to calamities, and unsustainable ways of living.

CEED called on the government to cease all logging, mining, and quarrying operations in the Sierra Madre and other watersheds and forests in the country, which shield the people from the worst of calamities.

“The Filipino people are indeed resilient, yet the narrative of resilience seems to have become a convenient excuse for our leaders to be negligent,” CEED said.

According to the Global Peace Index 2019 Report, the Philippines is the country most at risk from the climate crisis with factors, such as extreme weather and climate hazards.

Environment group Aksyon Klima Pilipinas also demanded that the government allocate more attention, resources, and manpower toward strengthening climate change adaptation and mitigation policies.

“This is an unfortunate reality that the Philippines, one of the countries at highest risk to the climate crisis, can expect moving forward in the absence of transformative actions,” Aksyon Klima said.

CEED, meanwhile, called on all countries that continue to burn coal and other fossil fuels to immediately transition to renewable energy.

“We demand that the international community, particularly developed countries, work to bring about in developing countries a sustainable lifestyle which follows the tenets of ecological and climate justice, and account for the loss and damages experienced by communities most at risk from the climate crisis,” CEED said.

“It is the least they can do and a debt ought to be paid to climate-vulnerable peoples after unleashing the tide of industrialization which triggered the climate crisis in the first place,” it said.

Aksyon Klima echoed the same sentiment, saying that the climate debt must be paid in full and the government must hold industrialized nations accountable for their significant roles in causing the climate crisis.

“We also urge the national government to hold corporations accountable for emitting a vast majority of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions that allow them to continue to profit at the expense of planetary and human health,” it said.

Ironically, the Philippines will be celebrating the National Climate Change Consciousness Week.

With this year’s theme “Adapting for a Sustainable Future,” the annual week-long celebration aims to create awareness on global warming and climate change by pursuing broad and intensive public information and education campaigns to secure the cooperation of the private and public sectors.

“The ongoing climate crisis and pandemic has brought profound effects and impacts in our society.  Despite limitations, we want to utilize this week to encourage individual actions and convene the public and private sectors to address this dual threat and contribute towards green recovery,” Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu said.

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