Almost every region across the planet is already experiencing climate extremes, and things can get worse if the world crosses the 1.5 °C temperature limit. How can governments save humanity from this doom?
Earth has already warmed an average of 1.1 °C. This is according to the recently released synthesis report by the UN-backed Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
At the current rate of global warming, the report notes a rise in deaths due to heatwaves, reduced food and water security, and damaged ecosystems. Mass extinction of species on land and ocean is already being observed. These impacts are already manifesting in the Philippines.
Without drastic emission cuts from all nations, the global average temperature is on track to breach the 1.5 °C global warming limit by 2030. Every degree of increase in temperature will bring worse climate consequences and will exacerbate existing inequalities. The world will experience greater unpredictability in the global water cycle, drought and fires, more devastating floods, higher sea levels, and more intense tropical cyclones in the future.
Developing and vulnerable countries like the Philippines, which have contributed the least with the least contribution to global emissions, are already and will continue to be affected disproportionately as costs to adapt will exponentially increase with each increment of warming.
In the State of the Philippine Climate (SPC) 2020, the average temperature in the Philippines has already increased by 0.4 °C compared to the average temperature from 1991-2020.
According to SPC 2020, the hottest daytime temperature in the Philippines ranges from 27 °C to 37 °C. Projections show that in the early future (2020-2039), the hottest day of the year will be warmer by as much as 1 °C, and about 4 °C in the late-future (2080–2099). Night time temperature is also projected to be warmer by more than 3 °C.
The total amount of rainfall received during wet days is projected to decrease in the late-future. If emissions remain high, warm and dry spells in the country will be longer.
Twenty-two typhoons also visited the country in the same year, more than the annual average of 20, with one developing as a Super Typhoon category.
Along with the climate scenarios, the IPCC report also outlined and presented actions that governments must undertake to reduce the risks of the worst impacts of the climate crisis.
According to the IPCC, ‘deep, rapid, and sustained emissions reductions’ must be achieved. Emissions must be halved by the mid-2030s to have any chance of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels as enshrined in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
Governments must deploy low or zero-emissions technologies, give up fossil fuels and transition to green energy, increase flows of climate finance for climate adaptation and mitigation, and have a strong political will and commitment to address the climate crisis.
OML Center Executive Director Dr. Rodel D. Lasco, coordinating lead author of the report’s Chapter 5 on food, fiber, and other ecosystem products, is the lone Filipino scientist in the 49-membered Core Writing Team which prepared the report’s Summary for Policymakers.
“The IPCC Synthesis report echoes the reality that our planet is rushing headlong towards unprecedented territory. Drastic action is critical to reduce GHG concentration in the atmosphere so that we do not breach a warming of more than 1.5 °C. The global community must act together before it’s too late,” said Dr. Lasco.
Dr. Lasco also called for the science community to accelerate efforts in promoting nature-based solutions or actions that protect, sustainably manage, or restore natural ecosystems to help address climate change.
“As one of the most at-risk countries in the world, the Philippines must accelerate its efforts to build resilience of social and natural systems. The science community can do its share by developing and promoting evidence-based solutions to climate hazards,” Dr. Lasco added.
The Synthesis Report is the culmination of the Sixth Assessment Cycle, drawing from the findings of the three Working Groups and three Special Reports. Nearly 200 countries contributed and approved the report.
Download the IPCC Synthesis Report: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/syr/.
For more information on the State of the Philippine Climate, visit OML Center’s website: https://www.omlopezcenter.org/state-of-the-philippine-climate/. The 2020 edition includes a summary from the Philippine Climate Extremes Report 2020, produced by PAGASA and Manila Observatory.
The first cycle of the Philippine Climate Change Assessment (PhilCCA) report is also available online, https://www.omlopezcenter.org/the-philippine-climate-change-assessment/. The PhilCCA is patterned after the IPCC Report and synthesizes scientific information from international and local literature to provide an assessment of climate change in the Philippines.
The OML Center’s Project Upturn provides a comprehensive list of climate solutions that addresses, lessens, or reduces climate-related risks and impacts. Find out more information at https://www.omlopezcenter.org/our-work/project-upturn/