The Philippines is prone to various environmental disasters. It experiences about 20 typhoons a year and just this week, suffered from Typhoon Kammuri, a category 4 cyclone that killed at least 13, knocked down electric poles and trees, and forced 20,000 people to evacuate their homes.
Environmentalists have warned that the country is in a climate emergency and a new study released on Wednesday further proves this.
According to the Global Climate Risk Index released by Germantank during the United Nations climate change conference in Madrid, the Philippines now ranks as the second most affected by climate-related disasters out of 181 countries.
The ranking, based on a study in 2018, is a big jump from the country's 20th spot in 2017. According to the researchers, this was mainly caused by the effects of Typhoon Mangkhut, which killed 59 people and displaced more than 800,000 when it hit northern Luzon island in September 2018.
In the last decade, the Philippines was also ravaged by 2009’s Typhoon Ketsana and 2013’s Typhoon Haiyan, which killed thousands and left even more homeless.
The Philippines also ranks fourth in most number of recorded deaths due to extreme weather events last year.
The index was based on the number of deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, the amount of losses in US dollars in purchasing power parity, and the declines in gross domestic product.
Number one on the list is Japan, while Germany ranks third. However, Germanwatch Policy Adviser David Eckstein said that poor countries like the Philippines are more vulnerable to extreme weather events like severe heat waves, drought, and flooding, The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported. This is because most don’t have the resources to fully recover before another disaster hits.
Following the new Global Climate Risk Index, environmental group Greenpeace is now reiterating its call for better policies to address climate change.
“The writing on the wall is clear: the Philippines is in a climate emergency. We have been in a state of climate emergency for decades now, and the situation is not getting any better — and it will not get any better unless the world leaders gathering for the COP25 in Madrid show concrete commitments towards the promises they made in Paris,” Greenpeace Southeast Asia Executive Director Yeb Saño said in a statement.
In April 2016, 175 countries including the Philippines signed the Paris Climate Agreement, which formalised their promise to limit the increase of the global average temperature to 1.5 °C, recognizing that this would substantially reduce the risks and impacts of climate change.
Filipinos are well aware that the world has a huge climate problem. A survey released in October shows that 75 percent of Filipinos are convinced climate change will leave “a great deal of impact.”
Still, President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration remains lackadaisical in implementing environmental policies. In October, Duterte even promoted a new coal plant as “clean energy.” Environmentalists criticised the comment and urged the president to promote more sustainable forms of energy like wind and solar power.
In his latest statement, Saño urged Duterte to declare a climate emergency and hold fossil fuel companies accountable for their contribution to climate change.
“We need urgent action if we are to address the root causes of the climate crisis and achieve climate justice for our people,” he said. “This would only be possible if tackling climate change and its impacts on the lives of Filipino people is given top priority by government and placed at the center of policy and decision making on local and national levels.”
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