Science and Environment

ASEAN, Philippines leaders urged to re-assess climate targets

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Former senator and Climate Change Commission head Heherson Alvarez has called on policymakers in Southeast Asia to reassess their commitments to address the threat of climate change.

Alvarez issued the call following the recent release of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which said that current pledges by governments are not enough to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 Celsius. 

“To avoid further environmental catastrophe, it is imperative that Philippine and ASEAN policymakers conduct appropriate hearings to determine if nationally determined commitments under the Paris climate accord are being met or derailed so that corrective measures can be taken,” said Alvarez. 

He said governments must also be prepared for the upcoming conference in Katowice, Poland this December to ensure the full implementation of the 2015 Paris agreement, a landmark deal to address the impact and threats of climate change. 

The IPCC, an intergovernmental body under the United Nations, issued last Oct. 6 a special report on the growing impacts of global warming and greenhouse gas emissions. 

It concluded that climate-related risks to health, livelihoods, food security, water supply, human security and economic growth are projected to increase if global warming reaches 1.5 degrees and eventually two degrees.  

Alvarez said the IPCC report is an urgent wakeup call for governments and leaders across the globe to double their efforts towards a low-carbon economy that will sustain the planet’s future for generations.

He said trends in intensity and frequency of some climate and weather extremes have been widely experienced, noting that warming greater than the global annual average is being experienced in many regions and some impacts may be long-lasting or irreversible, such as the loss of some ecosystems. 

Alvarez, chairman of the advisory board of the Washington-based Climate Institute, said the IPCC findings are not entirely new, pointing out that what is new is the level and speed of global warming impacts. 

“Asean countries will be hit particularly hard by climate change, causing the region’s agriculture-dependent economies to contract by as much as 6.7 percent annually by the end of the century,” he said. 

Citing an Asian Development Bank study, the former climate body chief said the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam are especially vulnerable because of large coastal populations facing rising sea levels and  heavily dependent on rice and agriculture products, which suffer from water shortages as well as floods.

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