LGUs urged to set climate change action plans

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The Climate Change Commission is pressing local government units (LGU) to double their efforts in crafting their respective climate change action plans amid record-breaking global temperatures that may result in more intense storms and frequent floods.

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Citing the occurrence of the recent El Niño phenomenon, Secretary Emmanuel De Guzman, CCC vice chairperson and executive director, said the need for local climate change action plans (LCCAP) has become even more urgent if LGUs are to be equipped against the impacts of global warming.

De Guzman underscored the importance of integrating climate adaptation into the disaster risk reduction and management policies and plans of every LGU.

“Our climate is warming at a faster rate than ever recorded. We cannot afford to ignore climate change and the most recent warming patterns because these may just be a taste of what’s to come,” he said in a statement.

He issued the statement after the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), an agency under the United Nations, announced that the earth is on track for its hottest year on record, with June marking the 14th straight month of record heat.

Citing two separate reports from the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the WMO said global temperatures from January to June shattered yet more records.

The average temperature in the first six months of 2016 was 1.3°C warmer than the pre-industrial era in the late 19th century, according to NASA.

NOAA said the global land and ocean average temperature for January-June was 1.05°C above the 20th century average, beating the record set in 2015 by 0.20°C.

“These data provide a cast-iron case for policymakers, especially those in the local governments, to prepare for climate disasters before they strike,” De Guzman said.

He warned that small changes in global temperatures could lead to extreme weather events, including droughts and floods.

De Guzman noted that the Philippines has just experienced its worst El Niño-induced dry spell in 18 years, which wreaked havoc on agriculture and severely affected the livelihood of millions of farmers and fishermen, who are already among the poorest in the country.

After the prolonged dry spell, the country now braces for La Niña, which brings heavy rains that trigger floods and landslides.

De Guzman said the Philippines has experienced more than its fair share of super typhoons in the past decade, with the worst—Super Typhoon Yolanda—killing almost 7,000 people and leaving millions homeless.

The devastation from that typhoon catapulted the Philippines to the top of the list of the 10 countries found to be most vulnerable to climate change, based on the annual Global Climate Risk Index of Germanwatch. The Climate Change Vulnerability Index 2016 also cites the Philippines as the 13th extremely at risk country among 186 nations.

De Guzman said this is why the CCC is rolling out its Communities for Resilience (CORE) Convergence Forum across the country to strengthen the capacity of LGUs to cope with climate change impacts.

“We need to increase local efforts in applying prevention strategies to reduce the impacts of the changes in weather patterns,” he said.

The CCC has just concluded the third leg of the convergence forum in Bohol on July 27 to 28. The first two forums were held in Davao City in March and Cagayan de Oro City in June.

The forum seeks to help LGUs, which are at the forefront of response actions, craft their own LCCAP and implement climate change adaptation, and disaster risk reduction management.

JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ

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