• Majority of Filipinos already experiencing effects of climate change

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    More than eight out of 10 Filipinos are already “personally experiencing” the impacts of climate change over the last three years, the Climate Change Commission said.

    Citing recent survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS), Secretary Lucille Sering, who is also the vice chairperson of the Climate Change Commission (CCC), said 85 percent of Filipinos claimed to have personally experienced of the impacts of the global phenomenon in the last three years.

    At least 54 percent of those affected described their experience as “severe” to “moderate,” while 31 percent said they have “little.”

    “The SWS survey tells us just how pervasive the impacts of climate change are to the lives of many Filipinos,” Sering said.

    Scientists attribute climate change to the rise in global temperature brought about by increased emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane.

    Increased emissions of these gases have been attributed to human activities such as burning of fossil fuels in motor vehicles and power plants, degradation of forests, and change in land use.

    The warming of the earth, scientists said, is causing problems including extreme weather events like prolonged droughts, intense rains and flooding, storm surges, and intensifying and more deadly storms.

    CCC, which coordinates and monitors programs relating to climate change, said that the Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate-related extreme weather events and sea level rise.

    Sering noted that in the last several years, the country has suffered extreme weather events including long dry spells, heavy rains as well as strong typhoons and floods like those caused by Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.

    “These problems are aggravated by harmful practices that have led to the destruction of forests, mangroves and corals, and the deterioration of the environment in general. Even some areas in Mindanao that we used to consider as typhoon-free have recently been hit by very strong typhoons, floods and mudslides,” said Sering.

    The proportion of those who have personally experienced climate change impacts is highest in the National Capital Region with 91 percent, followed by the rest of Luzon with 87 percent, Visayas with 84 percent and Mindanao with 78 percent.

    The percentage of those who personally experienced climate change impacts are highest in urban areas at 90 percent compared to rural areas at 79 percent.

    Conducted March 19-22, the survey interviewed 1,800 adults nationwide with a ± 2 percent margin of error at 95 percent confidence level. The World Bank commissioned some of the questions in the survey.

    Many survey respondents, however, admit that they have yet to fully understand climate change and its impacts. Based on the survey, 38 percent have “only little” and 14 percent have “almost no understanding” as against 12 percent who have “extensive” and 35 percent “partial but sufficient” understanding.

    On Wednesday, the World Bank Group launched the “Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience” report, which said the rising possibility of a 2-degree warmer world in the next few decades due to climate change threatens to reverse hard-won development gains in the East Asia and the Pacific Region, including the Philippines.

    According to World Bank Country Director Motoo Konishi, the SWS survey shows the importance of understanding climate change not just as an environmental issue, but as a serious sustainable development and inclusive growth challenge.

    “Many of the country’s poor derive income from agriculture, fishery and natural resources that are vulnerable to climate change,” said Konishi.

    He added that many of the poor families live in danger zones such as waterways, areas that are low lying and flood-prone, critical slopes as well as coastal zones, making them vulnerable to sea level rise and extreme weather events like strong typhoons and floods.

    Earlier, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reported that greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture grew 1.6 percent per year during the decade after the year 2000.

    Based on FAO’s data the farm sector’s total annual output in 2010 reached 5 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2 eq, a measure used to compare and aggregate different greenhouse gases). This equals 10 percent of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.

    Among the various agriculture sectors, livestock activities and the use of synthetic fertilizer are the largest contributors. This does not include emissions caused by land use change and wildfires.

    JAMES KONSTANTIN GALVEZ

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