Environmental Destruction, Effects of Climate Change to Worsen in Philippines

“Government policies such as the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, Biofuels Act, oil deregulation law, Mining Act of 1995, Forestry Code, neo-liberal globalization, corruption, bureaucrat capitalism aggravate our climate vulnerability despite the signing of the CCA,” said Tapang.

He cited factors that adversely affect the ability of the community to respond, to cope with or recover easily from disaster events results to vulnerability. “These are high poverty incidence, high inflation rates, low wages despite the increasing daily cost of living, high unemployment and underemployment rate, landlessness/inequitable distribution of country’s resources,” Tapang said.

While the CCA’s National Framework and Strategy acknowledges the decline in agriculture and food security, the law does not mention land reform as a crucial adaptation measure to climate change. According to Cosico, farmers have traditional knowledge on what crops to plant that can adapt to climate change. They also have farming practices that could adapt to the effects of climate change such as a crop diversification system and seasonal climate forecast.

“Unfortunately, a large part of agricultural land are privately owned and used for commercial or industrial farming or corporate agriculture. The agriculture industry as well as the people’s food security, are vulnerable to the effects of global warming,” she said.

Boongaling also said that studies have shown that if the ownership and control of farmers over their land are stable, it allows them to be more flexible in the face of a rapidly changing climate. They could decide what plants to cultivate in what season and what technology to use that will give them the maximum yield with the least impact on the environment.

Market-based Solutions

Ironically, International Financing Institutions (IFIs) have made a business out of the issue of climate change.

Boongaling cited provisions in the CCA that give the authority to the Climate Change Commission to recommend “key development investments” in climate sensitive areas. Its National Framework Strategy also identifies the development of a “competitive energy investment climate” as part of its mitigation strategy.

Because the government relies on IFIs to finance climate change mitigation programs of the government, the latter uses this as leverage to push for policies that would enable multinational corporations to earn more profits. The World Bank, for example, has its Climate Investment Funds. “The problem with these sources of funding is the existence of conditionalities,” Boongaling said. Hence, the state of the country’s economy would also be vulnerable to the increasing debt-burden, privatization of key industries and social sectors, speculation and financial instability, corruption, to name a few.

Even the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) uses the market-based approach in identifying responses to climate change. The Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) mechanism is a mitigation option, a kind of international payment for ecosystem services. Through this mechanism, developed countries could pay developing countries like the Philippines for conserving its forests so that the world would turn a blind eye to the environmentally-destructive practices of the former. The REDD+ was passed in the Conference of the Parties (Cop) 15 negotiations in December 2009. The passage of REDD+ came about when the Cop failed to arrive at a binding agreement for countries under the United Nations. Cop is the governing body of the UNFCCC.

There are already existing REDD+ projects in the country and one is in Mindoro according to Boongaling. Issues like land grabbing also arise in the implementation of REDD+. Many indigenous peoples who live in the forest are prone to displacement because REDD+ project areas are restricted. The definition of forests under REDD+ is flawed. A plantation is considered as a forest. Landlords who own plantations, therefore, would have an opportunity to ask for funds to further monopolize the land.

“Governments from around the globe have repeatedly failed to come up with a lasting remedy and a truly pro-people response to the reality of climate change,” said the Philippine Watch Alliance, an alliance compromised of representatives of grassroots organizations, non-government organizations, community organizations, the scientific community and environmental groups that seeks to address and discuss the issue of climate change in the Philippines.

According to environmental groups, for as long as solutions to climate change are dictated by developing countries –the major culprits of climate change –these would surely fail. Take for example the Kyoto Protocol of 1998, a landmark international agreement that was signed by different countries to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impact of climate change. It miserably failed not only because it was not able to force developed countries to abide by the treaty, but it has also adapted market-based mechanisms to combat climate change.

The PCWA noted, “The Kyoto Protocol failed to achieve its mandate due to low targets, flawed mechanisms, lack of political will by nations – particularly the United States, which did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol – to cut down emissions, and the accommodation of market-based mechanisms which maintained the unsustainable global order of overproduction by developed countries and transnational corporations.”

As for the Philippines, the issue of climate change is an issue closely linked to social justice and national development. The country needs to come up with a solution based on the people’s welfare and interests. Boongaling said that to effectively confront climate change, the Philippine government needs to “initiate a radical shift in its overall framework to one that has a basic appreciation of the root of the current crisis, that would identify who are responsible and thus must be held accountable and that deals with climate change not simply as an environmental crisis.”? (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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  1. The following links to a user-friendly article about climate modeling by Michael D. Lemonick, who writes for Yale Environment 360: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/01/18-6

    With so many Math and Science whizzes in the Philippines, hopefully we can, in a brighter future, contribute to the world’s understanding of climate changes. There are, even in those impoverished barangays, brilliant, beautiful minds just waiting for the right nourishment of good education. I know, having played chess with really young, scrawny Pinoy kids, a couple of whom beat me—well I was careless, but overjoyed when it happened (my ELO rating was at one time in the 1900s, so you can imagine my surprise).

    1. While our emissions drop, CO2 levels still continue to rise and obviously no unstoppable warming after 25 years of predictions.
    2. historic cold in Europe
    3. ocean surface temperatures are dropping
    4. 2010 was a record year for voters rejecting the CO2 mistake.
    5. 2010 was a big year for volcanic activity
    6. floods in Australia caused by La Niña — ocean cooling
    7. low jet stream in Europe.

    1. “4. 2010 was a record year for voters rejecting the CO2 mistake.” WRONG!
      On November 2, 2010, California voters rejected attempts to repeal AB32, voting NO on Proposition 23, the Global Warming Act of 2006. As usual, corporate interests funded the drive to repeal a law detrimental to their interests. These moneyed interests are Valero Energy Corporation and Tesoro Corporation, two Texas-based energy companies. This environmental victory, in my humble opinion (IMHO), validates: (1) Voters’ desire to reorient the U.S. economy to a greener future, and (2) When exposed, as to their real motives, corporations can be defeated by democratic means, by the “will of the people.”

    2. Mememine69. Your other assertions don’t prove anything. What is obvious is that extreme weather events are occurring. These extreme weather events are prompting scientists to investigate further if their models are correct—whether these disastrous events are manifestations of climate changes brought about by the planet’s warming, that portion caused by anthropogenic activities, by humans.

      The Philippines, IMHO, faces a more immediate “killer,” and this is the ambient pollution from coal power plants and particulate pollution in major cities (the first step to better “air” is to require low-sulfur diesel). If you live in Manila, you life span is at least 5 years less, compared to those living in the countryside, because of particulate pollution (PM2.5 and less). If you have HIKA (asthma) move out of the major cities of the Philippines to get some relief. If you have heart problems, stay away from cities in the Philippines so you’ll live longer.

      But then, mememine69, were you being merely ironic? Maybe you were (mememine69 is a very clever username, isn’t it?). God bless. See you in hell.

    3. On November 2, 2010, California voters rejected attempts to repeal AB32, voting NO on Proposition 23, the Global Warming Act of 2006.

      Should read: On November 2, 2010, California voters rejected attempts to repeal AB32, the Global Warming Act of 2006, voting NO on Proposition 23.

      (My English teachers at UP High and UP Los Banos will haunt me with this gram error, hehehe.)

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