What does UN climate report mean for Philippines? Expert says stronger cyclones, faster sea level rise

Gaea Katreena Cabico - Philstar.com
What does UN climate report mean for Philippines? Expert says stronger cyclones, faster sea level rise
Residents walk past their house littered with debris and trash in Marikina City, suburban Manila on November 13, 2020, a day after Typhoon Vamco hit the capital area bringing heavy rains and flooding.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines — Human-induced climate change is intensifying cyclones that threaten many countries in the world, including the Philippines, and will make storms worse in the coming decades, a climate scientist said Wednesday.

In a sobering report released Monday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirmed that “widespread and rapid” changes in the atmosphere, ocean and land have occurred and that it is “unequivocal” that human activities have warmed the planet.

The IPCC—a panel of climate scientists convened by the United Nations—warned that some of the consequences of the climate crisis, especially changes in the ocean and ice sheets, are irreversible for centuries to millennia.

And what do the findings of the report mean for the Philippines—an archipelago in the Pacific that is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change?

“It means the impacts we’re already seeing now—for example, impacts of tropical cyclone occurrences all over the country—they’re going to get worse. The projection is that while the number of tropical cyclones may not increase, its intensity will definitely increase,” climatologist Lourdes Tibig said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.

“We’re going to see more adverse impacts, we’re going to experience more extreme temperatures, we’re going to experience more heavy rainfall and flooding events. What does it mean for our economy? It is a lot,” she added.

IPCC warned that the average global temperature will likely breach the 1.5-degree Celsius warming threshold within the next 20 years, bringing more extreme weather events. Human activities have already heated the Earth by 1.1°C.

Continued sea level rise driven by climate change will affect coastal communities in the country, Tibig also said, warning that some islands may be submerged underwater if the rise in sea levels is not decelerated.

“Sea level rise in the Philippine seas is faster than what the IPCC report says,” she said.

At least three meters of sea level rise can be avoided if humans limit warming to 1.5°C instead of 2°C, according to the report.

Swift action needed

Tibig, who also serves as Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities’ climate advisor and a member of the Climate Change Commission’s National Panel of Technical Experts, said people will see more adverse impacts on the country’s environment, agriculture, food security and the health sector “if we do not heed the new report.”

She emphasized that the report sends the message that governments must take critical action to cap warming to 1.5°C—the goal set by the 2015 Paris Agreement.

“It simply means that we need to act fast now and we need to have massive action in order to reduce our emissions,” Tibig said.

“We need to step up our actions, we need to be consciously aware of what’s going to happen if you don’t try to do something.”



As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: December 2, 2021 - 10:40am

Follow this page for updates about climate change and information on current environmental issues. Main photo by Efigenio Toledo IV

December 2, 2021 - 10:40am

The United States is by far the biggest contributor to global plastic waste in the world, according to a new report submitted to the federal government that called for a national strategy to tackle the growing crisis.

Overall, the US contributed around 42 million metric tons (MMT) in plastic waste in 2016 -- more than twice as much as China and more than the countries of the European Union combined, according to the analysis. 

On average, every American generates 130 kilograms (286 pounds) of plastic waste per year, with Britain next on the list at 99 kilos per person per year, followed by South Korea at 88 kilos per year. — AFP

November 8, 2021 - 2:56pm

Australia said Monday it will sell coal for "decades into the future" after spurning a pact to phase out the polluting fossil fuel to halt catastrophic climate change.

More than 40 countries pledged to eliminate coal use within decades during the COP26 UN climate summit in Glasgow, which aims to cap the warming of Earth since the Industrial Revolution to between 1.5 and 2.0 degrees Celsius.

Australia, along with some other major coal users such as China and the United States, did not sign up.

"We have said very clearly we are not closing coal mines and we are not closing coal-fired power stations," Australian Minister for Resources Keith Pitt told national broadcaster ABC.

Defending Australia's decision, Pitt said Australia had some of the world's highest quality coal.

"And that is why we will continue to have markets for decades into the future. And if they're buying... well, we are selling." — AFP

November 4, 2021 - 12:19pm

China emits nearly a third of CO2 emissions in 2021, according to a report.

October 31, 2021 - 2:04pm

New Zealand set itself an ambitious new emissions reduction target Sunday, with a pledge to halve its net greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

The new target, announced as world leaders gather in Glasgow for the critical COP26 summit on climate change, is substantially higher than the previous goal of a 30 per cent reduction set as part of the 2015 Paris agreement.

New Zealand's enhanced contribution to the global fight on climate change "represents our fair share, and is in line with what's needed if we are to avoid the worst impacts of global warming," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Emissions are currently about the same as they were in 2005 and Climate Change Minister James Shaw described the next decade as "make or break" for the planet.

"To stand a chance of limiting global warming to 1.5C, the science shows we now have about eight years left to almost halve global greenhouse gas emissions," he said in a statement. 

"That's eight years for countries to make the necessary plans, put in place policies, implement them, and ultimately deliver the cuts."  — AFP

October 26, 2021 - 7:24pm

Iran's capital is suffering its worst drought in half a century, a water resources official said Tuesday, citing a 97-percent drop in monthly rainfall compared with last year.

Tehran has had 0.4 millimeters of rain since September 23, compared with 14.3 mm over the same period in 2020, said Mohammad Shahriari, deputy director of the company that supplies the region.

"Groundwater and surface water are at a critical state and there has not been a similar drought for the past 50 years," he was quoted as saying by Iran's ISNA news agency.

The five dams supplying water to the capital are at less than a third of their capacity, holding just 477 million cubic meters (under 17 billion cubic feet) of water instead of two billion cubic meters.

In September last year, the reserves held 729 million cubic metres of water. — AFP

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