PH second most affected by disasters tied to climate
The Philippines ranked second globally among countries most affected by climate-related disasters in 2018, according to a recent study by an environmental policy think tank.
Released on the sidelines of the UN climate change conference in Madrid, Spain, on Wednesday, the Global Climate Risk Index report by Germanwatch showed that the Philippines’ rank jumped significantly—from 20th in 2017 to second last year—mainly due to the onslaught of Typhoon “Ompong” (international name: Mangkhut) in the latter half of the year.
The world’s most powerful typhoon in 2018, Ompong killed 59 people and displaced more than 800,000 when it swept through northern Luzon in September last year.
4th globally in deaths
The Philippines also landed fourth overall with the most number of recorded deaths due to extreme weather events last year, leaping from 11th place in 2017.
The annual report showed that extreme weather events, such as severe heat waves, drought and flooding, persist as massive challenges for the world, but most especially for poor and vulnerable countries.
Rich nations, however, are also being more and more threatened by climate change, Germanwatch said. Japan topped the overall list of 181 countries, while Germany ranked third, as both countries were greatly affected by heat waves and severe droughts in 2018.
Poorer countries repeatedly hit by extreme disasters and have no time to fully recover underline the importance of reliable financial support systems, said David Eckstein, policy adviser of Germanwatch.
“[These should] not only [be] in climate change adaptation, but also for dealing with climate-induced loss and damage,” Eckstein said in a statement.
Loss and damage refers to the impacts of climate change, some of which are irreversible, such as deaths and threats to biodiversity.
The index is based on the loss figures recorded in weather-related events. Indicators include the number of deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, the amount of losses in US dollars in purchasing power parity and the declines in gross domestic product.
State of ‘climate emergency’
Greenpeace Southeast Asia said the Philippines’ rank showed the country was indeed in a state of “climate emergency,” and stressed the need for urgent climate action.
“We call on the Philippine government to formally acknowledge this emergency situation and act with utmost urgency and defend the interests of its people in the face of climate injustice,” said Yeb Saño, the group’s executive director.
“We need urgent action if we are to address the root causes of the climate crisis … This would only be possible if tackling climate change and its impacts on the lives of Filipino people is given top priority by [the] government and placed at the center of policy and decision-making on local and national levels,” he added.
The University of the Philippines Resilience Institute (UPRI) also supported the passage of a House resolution filed by Albay Rep. Joey Salceda to declare a “disaster and climate emergency” in the country.
“The declaration of climate emergency is for all to take seriously,” said UPRI and Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (Noah) Center executive director Mahar Lagmay. “This resolution is a reiteration of what we already know, that we need to do climate action and we need to do it now, no buts and no ifs.”
The Philippines has consistently ranked high among nations most affected by climate change impacts.
Risk of displacement
A separate report by international antipoverty group Oxfam released also this week showed that the Philippines ranks fourth globally where people are most at risk of displacement due to climate-fueled disasters.
The policy briefing showed that 20 million people have been forced from their homes yearly due to extreme weather events, translating to one person fleeing every two seconds due to floods, droughts and sea-level rise.
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