The Philippine Star
DEMAND AND SUPPLY By Boo Chanco
I can’t understand why there are still some people who are quibbling about the danger posed by climate change on the planet. It is pretty obvious that something is going on that looks dangerous and while we may not be able to prove to everyone’s satisfaction what it is, it is unreasonable to go on as if nothing is happening.
I understand our country will put up a convincing case for doing something about climate change at the Copenhagen Summit. We will also put forward the case for the developed world to help the rest of humanity deal with it. It is only a pity that all the right messages from the Philippines will be delivered by Ate Glue. Given her horrible international reputation these days, made even worse by the Maguindanao massacre and the declaration of martial law, she will hardly be credible.
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, a noted Climate Change advocate, has been calling for the international community to establish timely adaptation mechanisms for developing countries. These, Joey says, are crucial, given our relatively higher vulnerability to climate change.
To make our case in Copenhagen, Joey said the Philippines will highlight the recent devastation caused by two powerful storms. The World Bank has said the economic toll of storms Ondoy (international codename Ketsana) and Pepeng (Parma), which devastated parts of Metro Manila and northern Luzon, totaled $4.38 billion (P206 billion), equivalent to 2.6 percent of gross domestic product.
The two typhoons also killed 956 persons (with 86 still missing), injured 84 others while causing the biggest outbreak of leptospirosis in recent history.
The business sector was devastated with $2.34 billion in damage and losses, felt mostly by micro- to medium-sized enterprises, which normally have limited or no access to credit.
Farmers are reported to have suffered $849.3 million in damages and losses. The country lost 850,000 tons of rice due to the successive typhoons this year. The World Bank estimates we will need $4.42 billion for reconstruction and recovery from damage and losses over three years.
Our recent Ondoy/Pepeng experiences should normally give us credibility when we push for new and additional funds to address climate change and advocate putting up the mechanism for meeting the challenges of this environmental phenomenon. Gov. Joey proposes setting up funds of approximately $400 billion to help address the need to both mitigate emissions and adapt to the impact of climate change, in addition to current development aid.
Greenpeace is calling for $140 billion a year to be transferred from rich nations to poorer ones to help developing nations tackle emissions and deal with climate related problems like rising sea levels. That’s broadly in line with what other analysts expect will eventually be passed, although the breakdown of who pays for what is uncertain. Europe has agreed to contribute $22 to $40 billion a year. In the US, the House climate change bill allocates at least $8 billion a year.
Gov. Joey estimates total funding currently available for climate-related projects at less than $10 billion a year. So far, less than $1 billion has been made available to address the urgent need for adaptation in developing countries, Salceda underscored.
“Developing countries need affordable access to technology” to mitigate emissions and adapt to impacts of climate change” the Albay governor said. This may require an equivalent of the Doha TRIPS Agreement for drugs and medicines, wherein large scale transfer of technology must be accessible via compulsory licensing arrangements, he averred.
Gov. Joey was particularly concerned about the impact of climate change on our growing number of poor people. The 2007-2008 Human Development Report argues that failure to adequately address climate change now will “consign the poorest 40 percent of the world’s population – some 2.6 billion people – to a future of diminished opportunity.”
Citing the Stern Review report, Gov. Joey noted that it warns that warming above 2°C will lead to “major changes in human geography– where people live and how they live their lives.” More importantly, Gov. Joey points out, Stern also cautions that inaction will lead to climate change costing about 20 percent of global GDP.
Climate change will increasingly be a key contributor to morbidity, mortality, and poverty. Our poor are particularly vulnerable because they are resource dependent, have low incomes, and are constrained to adapt by insufficient access to the social, environmental and economic resources needed to adapt.
A treaty following the Copenhagen Summit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions should help mitigate climate change that even now threatens farm production given higher temperatures and changes in rainfall patterns, and increased occurrences of droughts and floods. President Obama sounds optimistic about such an agreement being reached. But given past experience, we can only hope and pray that they do.
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