Gov’t urged: Declare ‘climate emergency’
MANILA, Philippines — Filipino climate scientists are urging the government to consolidate data from various agencies to identify cities and municipalities most at risk of climate-related disasters.
In a resolution submitted to the Climate Change Commission (CCC), the National Panel of Technical Experts (NTPE) has also called on the government to declare a “climate emergency,” shifting from the use of the term “climate change” to further underscore the need for immediate action.
Composed of leading experts in different fields, such as climate, biodiversity, meteorology, oceanography and health, the NTPE provides technical assistance and advises the commission on concerns related to climate science.
“As one of the most climatically vulnerable countries in the world, the Philippines should mobilize its people, institutions and resources to enhance its ability to prepare and even prosper amidst the climate emergency,” the panel said in the resolution.
The NTPE said various data sets—which contain information on natural hazards, levels and extent of exposure, and inherent vulnerabilities—must be gathered in a single platform that can be analyzed.
These data may be sourced from various government agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Health.
“The CCC is in the best position to gather and analyze these data sets and produce a baseline climate risk assessment at a city/municipal scale,” the panel said.
Start risk assessment
“In view of this, NTPE recom¬mends that the CCC assemble a team of GIS (geographic information system) specialists, remote sensing image analysts and data scientists which can lead the gathering, integration and analysis of data,” it added, urging the commission to fast-track the process to begin the “critical work” of climate risk assessment.
In the resolution submitted early February, the panel said that such assessment would allow local governments to know which adaptation measures are best for their communities. It will also drive funding, such as the People’s Survival Fund, to be channeled to those that are most in need.
Moreover, in light of the worsening impact by man-made climate change, the NTPE said it was high time the current state of affairs was considered an emergency.
Call to action
“It is time to shift from using the term ‘climate change,’ a declaration of an observation, to ‘climate emergency,’ a call to action,” the panel said.
In 2019, 41 economies, including all members of the European Union, signed a climate emergency declaration.
The 14-member NTPE is chaired by geologist Carlos Primo David, who also serves as the executive director of the Philippine Council for Industry Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology.
Its members, including scientists Rosa Perez and Lourdes Tibig, have contributed to several reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which are published yearly to inform policymakers on the state of knowledge on climate change.
PH among most vulnerable
The Philippines remains among the most vulnerable countries globally to the climate crisis. Worsening droughts and floods are expected in the coming years, which could exacerbate poverty and hamper socioeconomic progress in the country.
A study published just last month showed that rising carbon emissions worldwide could double the number of intense floods and storms in 13 years.
For the Philippines, this means more disasters that others haven’t seen, as the country faces about nine extreme events annually, compared with the average of a single disaster in other countries.
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