Climate change: Why PH should care

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We’re in the second half of the year and that means the rainy season is here. But it’s not the usual wet season - experts warn of La Niña, a natural phenomenon that’ll make rains more frequent and stronger. It’s the flip side of El Niño, which brought the drought we’ve just witnessed across the country, especially in Mindanao.

El Niño and La Niña will be made harder by the effects of climate change. Filipinos should understand that while they bear the brunt of the effects of climate change, they can also do something to mitigate it.

What is climate change?

Climate change is caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gas emissions can come from both natural sources and manmade activities. But it is man made activities like fossil fuel use, deforestation, intensive livestock farming, use of synthetic fertilizers, and industrial processes that worsen the problem.

The following are the main sectors that contribute to climate change in the Philippines:

Activities that emit dangerous greenhouse gases

Energy

  • Sourcing energy from coal-fired power plants and other fossil fuels

    As of May 2015, the Philippines had 17 operating coal-fired power plants. The Department of Energy (DOE) has approved 29 more, which will start operating commercially by 2020.

    The 2012-2030 Philippine Energy Plan also promotes fossil fuels exploration. The DOE has proposed 16 sedimentary basins in the country that have a combined potential of 4,777 million barrels of fuel oil equivalent for exploration.

  • Using appliances

Agriculture

  • Cultivating rice

    Growing rice in flooded fields requires organic fertilizers, which emit methane when they decompose. 44% of emissions from agriculture come from rice cultivation.

  • Growing livestock

    Ruminant animals like cows and goats produce methane when they digest food.

  • Large-scale chemical agriculture

    This uses massive amounts of pesticides and chemical fertilizers, the production of which is dependent on fossil fuels. The industry also uses petroleum products for food distribution and transport.

Forestry

  • Clearing forests for plantation

  • Illegal logging

    These activities reduced the country’s forest cover from 1934-2010.

    See graph

Transportation

  • Using vehicles that run mainly on oil and petroleum products

  • Using cars instead of mass transportation

    The country has too many vehicles on the road but few reliable modes of mass transportation, as well as infrastructure and facilities. Latest data shows there are 7.4 million vehicles plying Philippine roads and only 15 running trains that carry up to 650,000 passengers every day.

Industry

  • Mineral production

    92% of the emissions from the industry sector came from mineral production

  • Metal production

Waste

  • Throwing waste in open dumps and in landfills

    This is largely a result of the centralized method of waste management in the country. Out of the 40,000 tons of waste thrown in Metro Manila per day, only 65-75% are collected and 13% are recycled. Bulk of the garbage go to sanitary landfills or open dumps instead of being reused, re-purposed, or recycled. When organic material in waste decomposes, it emits methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

  • Burning trash

    When waste management fails, sometimes with no garbage collection to begin with, individuals resort to burning their trash, which emits carbon dioxide.

The effects of climate change

Rains in Luzon and Visayas will be heavier, and the dry season in Mindanao will be longer. The average temperature in the country will rise by 0.9°C to 1.1°C by 2020 and 1.8°C to 2.2°C by 2050.

Drastic weather changes will bring about more diseases such as malaria and dengue.

Disasters way more destructive than Yolanda will happen. Storm surges will be frequent and will affect about 42% of the country’s coastal population.

The economy will contract.

How to reduce emissions

Under the Paris Agreement on climate change, the Philippines has committed to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 70% by 2030.

To mitigate greenhouse gas emissions, the following can be done:

Tip: hover and click over different parts of the image

Energy

Go for renewable energy

The government passed the Renewable Energy Act in 2008. The Department of Energy has awarded a total of 650 service contracts for renewable energy projects totalling 10,040 megawatts in capacity.

These include 404 hydropower, 68 solar, 54 wind, 43 biomass, 41 geothermal and 5 ocean energy projects.

Use appliances that are energy efficient

Buy appliances with the Department of Energy’s “yellow tag”. This tag indicates that the appliances consume less energy.

Turn off appliances and electronics when not in use. Unplug them.

Best practices in the world

Scotland stopped its coal power production in 2015

Hawaii passed a law requiring the 100% use of renewable energy by 2045

Bhutan aimed to practice organic agriculture as a whole country by 2020

Norway was the first country in the world to have electric vehicles topping car sales

Mexico has reduced the rate of its deforestation by 10 times since the 1990s

Estonia recycles 40 percent of its waste

Spain has a mandatory program for building energy labelling

Sources:

  • Asian Development Bank
  • World Bank
  • http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2015/10/11/3710618/bhutan-organic-united-states-transition
  • www.zerowasteeurope.eu
  • National Statistics Office
  • Department of Transportation and Communication
  • Deforestation Success Stories by the Union of Concerned Scientists
  • World Resources Institute
  • USAID

#ClimateActionPH is a campaign that aims to show Filipinos why we should care about the causes and impact of climate change and the urgent need to mitigate it.

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