Now is the time: The Need for Immediate and Inclusive Climate Action

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If we want to ensure living on this livable planet, we must all act toward saving it from further damage and we must act now.

Filipino scientists who were part of Working Group II (WG2) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) underscored that, “any further delay in the concerted global action and we will miss a brief and rapidly closing window to secure a livable future.”

Understanding the impacts

“Human-induced climate change, including more frequent and intense extreme events, has caused widespread adverse impacts and related losses and damages to nature and people, beyond national climate variability,” Dr. Rodel Lasco, OML Center’s Executive Director said.

Dr. Lasco also mentioned that findings also showed that the “vulnerability of ecosystems and people to climate change differ substantially among and within regions.” He added that approximately 3.3 to 3.6 billion people globally live in contexts that are highly vulnerable to climate change.

In addition to the observed effects on ecosystems, the report also showed findings on the impacts of climate change toward human systems. Particularly for Asia, the report shows high or very high confidence that climate change has negative impacts on heat, malnutrition, mental health, and displacement of human beings as well as on storm-induced damages in coastal areas, among others.

During his presentation, UPLB-INREM Professor and Chair Dr. Juan Pulhin provided further insights on the impacts of climate change toward Asia and the Philippines. Dr. Pulhin said that, “observed surface air temperature has increased in the 20th century all over Asia.”

He added that this overall warming also increases the likelihood of threat of heat waves across Asia; droughts in arid and semi-arid areas of West, Central, and South Asia; floods in monsoon regions in South, Southeast, and East Asia, and; glacier melting in the Hindukush, Himalayan region.

Considering that the Philippines is composed of many coastal communities, the increase in strength of tropical cyclones makes these communities vulnerable to sea-level rise on top of the country’s risk for flooding.

Dr. Lasco is the coordinating lead author of Chapter 5 on food, fiber, and other ecosystem products, and a drafting author of the IPCC AR6 WG2 Summary for Policy Makers, while Dr. Pulhin is lead author of Chapter 18 on climate-resilient development pathways.

Calling for immediate action

After discussing the impacts of climate change on Asia and the Philippines, Dr. Pulhin stressed that there is a need for an integrated approach to action. He added that “we need the whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches to address this menace. We should act swiftly and collectively before it’s too late!”

For the Philippines, in particular, Dr. Pulhin calls for an integrated approach toward adaptation and take a look if these strategies are actually beneficial for all and not detrimental for others. Dr. Pulhin also said that one of the crucial steps in adaptation is taking into consideration the marginalized and vulnerable sectors in order to attain justice and equity in terms of climate change adaptation.

Dr. Rosa Perez, Senior Fellow at the Manila Observatory and lead author of Chapter 18 of the IPCC AR6 WG2, also shared a similar insight as Dr. Pulhin when she said that discussions on the solutions must also be done to make sure that adaptation strategies are not just beneficial for some and aggravating for others. She emphasized that as a nation, the Philippines is at risk from multiple climate and natural hazards making it very critical for us to act immediately and appropriately.

She stressed the importance of having a “just transition” in the context of climate change saying this would also help secure “worker’s rights and livelihoods through sustainable production and activities” and the integration of indigenous, local, and citizen’s knowledge on top of scientific and technical knowledge in order to understand better the operational pathways and institutional structures for better decision making.

“The choices we make in the next decades will determine our future,” Dr. Perez said. “Actions on climate adaptation are urgently needed as urgently as actions on climate mitigation.” 

What can be done

The Stakeholder’s Briefing was also attended by representatives from different sectors and organizations who shared their thoughts and insights on what we can do to address climate change impacts.

During the briefing, discussants and reactors alike agreed that the most important things that we need to take note of are translating the science to the local context, understanding how the science applies to our setting, and translating the science and principles into actionable plans.

“It’s also time to localize the IPCC reports given the country’s archipelagic context. Climate change impacts are locally specific and vary from place to place, and we need local scientists now, more than ever, to generate more new research, as well as validate, interact and contribute to the global scientific effort,” Mr. Kairos dela Cruz of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities said.

He added that, “[Let’s] Look at the things more granular and local. The battlefield is in the local communities, therefore, efforts should be focused toward them.”

In addition, Hon. Alfredo Coro II, former Vice Mayor of Del Carmen, Surigao del Norte, said that it is important to remember that adaptation measures should not be a one-size-fits-all approach. “[We need to] think local. We have different needs in every LGU, barangay, and household so adaptation will be very different. If we understand everything, we can have better approaches.”

As for the involvement of the private sector, Ms. Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga of the National Resilience Council calls for a bigger involvement. “For the private sector, the main challenge here is, number one, to step beyond the traditional role of donor in the relief and response when disasters occur. These types of participation in the post-disaster activities really may only address the immediate and near-term climate risk,” Atty. Yulo-Loyzaga expressed. “Secondly, it needs to recognize that the cost impacts of disruptions to business due to both slow- and rapid-onset climate-related hazards are actually opportunities to invest in the resilience of natural, human, and engineered systems, which could be vital to the private sectors’ own survival,”

She also added that, “Private sector needs to be actively involved in building multi-stakeholder partnerships for evidence-informed inclusive and adaptive leadership across all levels—so that has both a horizontal and a vertical challenge to it—in terms of coherence and implementation. This partnership should be driven by shared resilient development goals and they must be based on the understanding of the complex intersections between human, ecological, economic, infrastructure and security factors.”

Apart from Atty. Yulo-Loyzaga, Hon. Coro, and Mr. dela Cruz, other reactors present during the event were Climate Change Commission’s Mr. Jerome Ilagan, World Wildlife Fund for Nature Philippines’s Atty. Angela Ibay, and Manila Observatory’s Dr. Antonio M. La Viña.

The “Stakeholders’ Briefing: Latest IPCC Report on Impacts, Adaptation & Vulnerability” was a collaboration of OML Center, Manila Observatory, National Resilience Council, and UPLB Interdisciplinary Studies Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management held on March 3, 2022.

To watch the event, click here: