MANILA, Philippines--The rapidly changing weather pattern blamed on global warming is hurting the fishing industry, depriving fishermen and their families not
only of income but also their own places to live.
However, the government seems unprepared to respond to the effects of global warming as well as to its impact on the population, mostly the poor, who are at risk, civil society groups said on Wednesday.
In a study conducted three months ago on Camiguin Island, the umbrella group NGOs for Fisheries Reform (NRF) found that fishermen suffered from twin effects of global warming: "We found the social and economic impact of climate change on coastal communities," NRF's Dennis Calvan said.
Fishermen on the island would usually go out to sea from January to May. But the fishing season has become shorter as heavy rains and strong waves now begin as early as late March or early April, Calvan said.
But their pockets are not the only ones hurting: Families living near the sea are also displaced by the rising sea level. "There are settlements near the shores which are now reached by the sea," Calvan said.
However, the government appears unprepared to support fishermen as well as farmers and other poor segments of the population whose livelihood are threatened by global warming, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement acting president Isagani Serrano said.
Serrano said: "The government response is promising on paper, but in reality, what is it doing for the small farmers, the small fishermen, for the urban poor?"
Calvan and Serrano's groups joined 18 other organizations to form the Civil Society Organizations Working Group on Climate Change and Development (CSO Working Group) which is proposing to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that funds be raised from industrialized countries to support adaptation projects in developing and least developed countries.
"Developing countries like the Philippines should be able to tap bigger funds to support its climate change adaptation actions," CSO Working Group member Neth Daño said during a press conference in Quezon City on Wednesday.
Serrano said that industrialized countries like the US emit more polluting gases. In the US, an average person emits some 15 tons of polluting gases per year, compared to an average of a ton per year in the Philippines.
He said: "Those who pollute more should pay more and should cut more on emissions."
He added that rich countries should help poor countries who need to adjust to the effects of global warming.
But these should be true even within the country, he said.
Richer families with expensive lifestyles emit as much pollutants as an average American does. He said the demand to respond to climate change is to change lifestyles, which he admitted is difficult to do.