by Yeb Sano
Climate Change is the most serious and most pervasive threat facing humanity today. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the highest scientific body responsible for evaluating the causes and risks of climate change, affirmed in its Fourth Assessment Report that the “warming of the earth’s climate system is unequivocal” and that this warming is attributed to the dramatic rise in human-induced greenhouse gas emissions since the mid 20th-century.
The Philippines, our beloved nation of about 100 million people, now face serious threats from more intense tropical cyclones, drastic changes in rainfall patterns, sea level rise, and increasing surface temperatures. All these factors contribute to acute impacts on our natural ecosystems - forests, watersheds, coastal and marine - and on biodiversity. These then cascade to serious impacts on our food security, water resources, human health, public infrastructure, energy, and human settlements.
It is clear that climate change will have serious implications on the country’s efforts to address poverty and realize sustainable development for current and future generations. Climate change is now upon the Philippines and the years ahead will be tough. Already, the country is being battered by intense tropical cyclones, serving as a foreboding preview of things to come as climate change intensifies. Ondoy, Pepeng, Santi taught us a lesson on climate change adaptation. Accelerated sea level rise is compromising ground water sources and threatening coastal human settlements and infrastructure. Warmer temperatures pose dire consequences for agricultural systems and biodiversity. Drastic changes in rainfall patterns and seasonality, and painful dry spells are compounding agricultural productivity and integrity of natural ecosystems. As such, for the Philippines, adaptation to climate change is a national imperative.
As the world stands at the threshold of an important juncture in the history of the planet and the international community grapples for a lasting global solution to the climate crisis, the threats to humans and nature have become unprecedented. The peril the world faces impinges on the ability to reduce disaster risk, protect food sources, preserve biodiversity, and address poverty. In fact, a lot of the threats are from uncharted territory and the rate at which change is taking place may be faster than human and natural systems can manage. Indeed, climate change presents enormous implications in the way human development is pursued as well as in the way natural resources are managed and protected. With a changing climate, management strategies and political approaches that have proven effective in the past may have to withstand their ultimate test and while a future ruled by climate change is difficult to fathom and complicated to plan for, the world has to understand it well and chart the territory.
The world stands at a point where even the most aggressive and immediate actions to mitigate climate change will not stop the impacts at least for the next half of this century. While deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions may buy time for human and natural systems to adapt in the decades ahead, human and natural systems have begun to reel from the unfolding impacts.
Despite the gargantuan challenge that climate change is, it offers the Filipino nation the rare but golden opportunity to achieve transformative change. THE CLIMATE CHANGE CHALLENGE WILL MAKE THE PHILIPPINES A BETTER NATION. Simply because it is our only option. For us to weather the storm and survive climate change, our society needs to create the climate for change.
Climate change is the defining issue of our generation. The policies, decisions, and actions we take should reflect the common aspiration of Filipinos and the global community to address the climate crisis. And that means the emergence of leaders who care about our country's and planet's future, and the dismantling of long-held anti-participatory top-down and authoritarian approach to planning and implementation.
It is a great time to be a Filipino – for our generation will be the generation that will find the political will and the courage to come together as a nation and confront climate change head on. The Climate Change Commission embarks on a journey to chart our national survival plan. May this be a reflection of the common voice of the nation.
For more information, please contact:
Commissioner Naderev “Yeb” Saño
Climate Change Commission
Rm 238 Mabini Hall, Malacanang Complex
San Miguel, Manila