MANILA, Philippines – Learning from past experiences of disasters and extreme weather conditions, the government has adopted a new strategy to improve the country’s resiliency to the worsening effects of climate change.
Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in a statement on Thursday night, August 7, that President Benigno Aquino III elevated climate change into a priority issue to protect vulnerable communities from its impact during the Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change meeting on Wednesday.
“(The President) emphasized the need to promote a sense of urgency among all national agencies and local government units in the aspect of capability building, considering the country’s vulnerability to natural hazards,” Coloma said.
He added, “The cluster’s joint strategy for climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) includes standardization of policies, capacity building programs and risk-based local plans.”
The meeting was also held to discuss and streamline the action programs of the various departments and agencies involved.
The Philippines is usually hit by around 19 tropical cyclones or storms in a year. But in 2013, extreme weather conditions have become stronger and more violent, resulting to thousands of casualties and billions of pesos worth of damage in property.
In November 2013, Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) ravaged the Visayas causing at least 6,000 deaths. Typhoon Glenda (Rammasun) pounded Southern Luzon in July 2014, leaving at least P1 billion ($22.6 million*) worth in damage.
The new strategy will hopefully lessen casualties and damage in future calamities.
“For instance, there must be broad awareness on the use of geo-hazard maps that indicate landslide- and flood-prone areas in each province, municipality or city so that the local disaster risk-reduction and management councils can respond in a timely and appropriate manner,” Coloma said.
In the 543 natural disasters to hit the country from 1990 to 2014, the cluster noted that around 58% were storms while 25% were floods.
Climate change mitigation
A recent study conducted by Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF) Philippines found out that climate change threatens to cripple the economies of at least 4 cities in the country – Tacloban City (Leyte), Naga City (Camarines Sur), Batangas City (Batangas) and Angeles City (Pampanga).
The country’s reliance on coal, however, greatly contributes to climate change. Various groups have called on the government to shift its focus to clean and renewable energy.
With the new strategy, Coloma said the cluster will now focus on the following projects for climate change mitigation:
- Carbon sequestration through forests and oceans
- Energy efficiency and conservation
- Renewable energy development
- Greater reliance on cleaner energy sources such as natural gas and geothermal energy
The cabinet cluster on climate change is composed of agencies that are involved in mitigation, response and rehabilitation of disasters – DENR, DA, DAR, DILG, DOE, DOST, DPWH, DSWD, MMDA, NDRRMC, the Climate Change Commisson and the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission. – Rappler.com
*$1 = P44
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