THE BUSINESS EYE: CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE PHILIPPINE INDC COMMITMENT TO REDUCE CARBON EMISSION
The days are getting warmer, floods are occurring in areas never inundated before and typhoons are getting stronger. These are some of the environmental shifts now happening in the country that are attributed to climate change.
On a global scale, climate change has already shrunk the glaciers, broke up ice on rivers and lakes, shifted animal and plant ranges, and caused some trees to flower sooner. Scientists predict that the continued rise in temperature due largely to the greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere that are caused by human activities will further raise the sea level. Already, about eight (8) inches rise in sea level had been observed since recording of sea level started in 1880. It is projected to rise one (1) to four (4) feet more by year 2100.
Droughts and Heat Wave Amid Rising Sea Level
But amid the flooding and storm surges due largely to rising sea level, drought and heat waves will become more intense in some parts of the globe due to climate change. These abnormally hot days which, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) could rise from 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century could go for longer periods. IPCC is composed of over 1,300 scientists from the United States of America and other parts of the world who are doing research on climate change and its impact on the global environment.
The IPCC, however, says the impact of global warming would vary depending on the affected region. It says, increases in global mean temperature of less than 1.8 to 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit (1 to 3 degrees Celsius) above the1990 levels will produce mixed impacts. It could be beneficial to some regions while harmful to others.
In the Philippines, we’ve seen extended dry seasons in Mindanao triggering brown-outs in the hydro-power dependent island. The long droughts in Mindanao has also caused tremendous damage to crops. While in the islands of Leyte and Samar in the Eastern Visayas Region, thousands of lives were lost and hundreds of thousands more left homeless by the deadly storm surges of super typhoon Yolanda. These tragic events are largely blamed on the environmental shifts due to climate change.
Philippine Commitment to INDC, Timely and Approriate
The Philippines’ Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the United Nations (UN), pledging to cut the country’s carbon emission by 70% by year 2030, therefore, comes very timely and appropriate, in light of the Philippines’ being among the most vulnerable countries to climate change.
Moreover, aside from its commitment to reduce carbon emissions, the Philippine government also says it will commit adaptation measures to help prepare Filipinos for the impacts of climate change such as typhoons and drought.
According to the country’s INDC, its committed carbon emission reductions will be taken from the energy, transport, waste, forestry and industry sectors. The agricultural sector was not included in the list, although it is the second biggest source of emissions after the energy sector.
The task of meeting the Philippines’ 70% commitment to reduce carbon emissions by year 2030 is very challenging, if not daunting. But this is easily attainable, if only every Filipino will do his/her share in helping reduce carbon emissions.
Already, 136 countries have submitted their INDCs to the UN including the Philippines. To be compiled into all the pledges and commitments to significantly reduce carbon emissions, we hope to see less greenhouse gases, a heat-trapping gas in the atmosphere by year 2030. After all, greenhouse gases are products of human behavior.
ARIEL NEPOMUCENO is the Deputy Commissioner at the Bureau of Customs, and a columnist of Trade In Magazine.