Philippine at higher risk to climate change — UN agencies

(The Philippine Star) - November 14, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA,Philippines — Three United Nations agencies have categorized the Philippines to be at a higher risk to weather events spawned by climate change.

In separate reports, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), UN International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDRR) and Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stressed that the “physical signs and socio-economic impacts of climate change are accelerating” in many parts of the world, including the Philippines.

“Record greenhouse gas concentrations drive temperatures toward increasingly dangerous levels,” they said.

The IPCC warned that “there is no longer any time for delay and understanding the impacts of climate change on sustainable development goals and the socio-economic consequences of increasingly extreme weather.”

The WMO detailed climate-related risks and impacts on human health and welfare, migration and displacement, food security, the environment and ocean and land-based ecosystems which, it said, affected nearly 62 million people last year.

Floods have also affected over 35 million people, based on an analysis of 281 events by the US Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, the UNISDRR reported.

WMO secretary general Petteri Taalas noted that “climate science has achieved an unprecedented degree of robustness, providing authoritative evidences of global temperature increase.”

The findings of the three international agencies underscore the need to place the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) under the proposed Department of Disaster Resilience, said Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, principal author of the DDR bill now pending in Congress.

House Bill 30 proposes the transfer of PAGASA and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, presently under the Department of Science and Technology, to the DDR among several other government agencies, “to harmonize disaster risk assessment, reduction and mitigation, warning and response, along with relief, retrieval and rehabilitation under one roof,” Salceda said.

He said PAGASA is vital to the DDR to guarantee unity of command, and science-based approach to and full-time focus on natural hazards and human-induced disasters.

“Forecasting and early warning, which PAGASA can do, are critical factors in the country’s survival, especially during calamities,” he said.

The most recent cases of severe weather disturbances in the Philippines include Super Typhoons Mangkhut and Ompong, which killed 134 people and affected over 2.4 million more as well as Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda, which devastated the country in 2013 and killed 6,340 people.

The DDR is envisioned as the primary government agency that “shall be responsible, accountable, and liable for leading, managing, and organizing national efforts to prevent and reduce disaster risks; prepare for and respond to disasters; and recover, rehabilitate, and build forward better after the destruction.”

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