THE Philippines will likely endure more super typhoons like Yolanda, with studies have shown that worsening climate conditions will give birth to deadlier and more devastating disasters, according to the Climate Change Commission (CCC).
Members of the agency, which is under the Office of the President, along with other delegates, flew to Warsaw, Poland, for the United Nations Climate Change Conference.
In an interview with The Manila Times, Commission head Lucille Sering said Yolanda will not be the last monster storm to visit the Philippines.
“Extreme weather is becoming more frequent,” Sering said, adding “it is now the new norm.”
“With Yolanda, it was a deadly combination. High temperatures took more water to the atmosphere so it brought more rains while strong winds pushed ocean water ashore. You wouldn’t stand a chance. Its strength was off the charts,” she told The Manila Times.
In an earlier report, the British paper The Guardian described the Philippines as “ill-starred” as it lay helpless, prone and vulnerable at the windswept eastern end of the Pacific. It further mentioned the country as “becoming a hothouse for developing new methods and systems in the growing business of disaster relief.”
Sering said the Philippines is just one of several countries suffering from the effects of climate change, citing reports that the sea level is rising in the Caribbean and the Pacific islands.
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 typhoons a year.
Citing a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Sering said there is reason to believe that strong natural disasters are actually influenced by human activities such as the contamination of the atmosphere that caused global warming.
She said UN scientists were “95-percent sure” about their findings.
On its website, the Green Climate Fund (GCF) said it aims to “promote the paradigm shift towards low-emission and climate-resilient development pathways by providing support to developing countries to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change, taking into account the needs of those developing countries particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.”
Two days after Yolanda decimated communities in the Visayas, CCC officials flew to Warsaw for the United Nations Climate Change Conference to pitch for the immediate activation of the $100-billion GCF to mitigate the effects of future disasters on developing nations.
Sering said raising the funds is now a matter of “urgency,” especially since typhoons are getting stronger by the year.
“More extreme weather events are more likely to occur in the future… what we’re saying in Warsaw is that developing countries such as the Philippines cannot do it on their own. This will somehow provide a motivation for them to act now,” Sering said.
The GCF, which was approved four years ago, has yet to be put up but Sering said rich countries that mostly contribute to carbon emissions in the atmosphere should start pouring into the Fund.
“We will not make a plea or beg. But we will point out that the Philippines, through Yolanda, has served as a warning system for the worse things to come. The GCF must be put up now,” Sering, who is set to join her colleagues on Saturday in Poland, stressed.
At the opening of the conference, Commissioner Naderev Sano told the delegates that they must gather the will to counteract climate crisis by immediately identifying clear sources of funds for the GCF, which is headed by Gov. Joey Salceda of Albay. The governor was elected to the GCF Board last October.
“What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness,” said Sano in an emotion-packed speech before his counterparts. The commissioner is also a resident of Albay who began “fasting” since Monday to dramatize the country’s appeal to other countries for help.
With Salceda at the helm of the UN Fund and following the destruction left by Yolanda, Sering said she is confident that the $100 billion can be raised.
The Times tried to reach Salceda but people close to him said he was busy with relief and rehabilitation in Albay, which was also hit by the super typhoon.
Salceda, according to commission officials, is the first Asian to chair the GCF. He was elected during the GCF’s fifth meeting in Paris last October 10 although he was recommended to the board by President Benigno Aquino 3rd in 2012.
The GCF is the finance arm of the UNFCCC and is co-chaired by a German representative for developing countries.
The Fund was established by the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in December 2009 and seeks to aid developing countries adapt to the impacts of climate change, including Small Islands Developing States, Least Developed Countries, Africa, and highly vulnerable communities in countries like the Philippines, Indonesia, and Bangladesh.
The 48-member board co-headed by Salceda oversees the operation of the Fund, which has pledges of $100 billion by 2020 with 2014 as the target for the operationalization of the Fund. Members of the GCF Board include developed and developing nations like Australia, the United States, Britain, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Italy, Norway, China, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Spain, Latin American, African and Asian countries.
The Warsaw meeting is the 19th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 19) under the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change.