MANILA, JUNE 20, 2013 — Climate change is a global phenomenon whose impacts are already being personally felt by most Filipinos.
In a recent survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS), 85 percent (or eight out of ten) Filipinos claimed to have “personally experienced” climate change impacts in the last three years. Out of this number, 54 percent described their experience as “severe” to “moderate” while 31 percent said it was “little.”
The proportion of those who have personally experienced climate change impacts is highest in the National Capital Region (91 percent), followed by the rest of Luzon (87 percent), Visayas (84 percent) and Mindanao (78 percent). The percentage of those who personally experienced climate change impacts are highest in urban areas (90 percent) compared to rural areas (79 percent).
Scientists attribute climate change to the rise in global temperature brought about by increased emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane. Increased emissions of these gases have been attributed to human activities such as burning of fossil fuels in motor vehicles and power plants, degradation of forests, and change in land use. The warming of the earth, scientists say, is causing problems including extreme weather events like prolonged droughts, intense rains and flooding, storm surges, and intensifying and more deadly storms.
“The SWS survey tells us just how pervasive the impacts of climate change are to the lives of many Filipinos,” said Secretary Lucille Sering, Vice Chairperson of the Climate Change Commission (CCC) tasked to coordinate and monitor programs relating to climate change.
“In the last several years, the country has suffered extreme weather events including long dry spells, heavy rains as well as strong typhoons and floods like those caused by Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. These problems are aggravated by harmful practices that have led to the destruction of forests, mangroves and corals, and the deterioration of the environment in general. Even some areas in Mindanao that we used to consider as “typhoon-free” have recently been hit by very strong typhoons, floods and mudslides,” said Secretary Sering.
Conducted on March 19-22, 2013, the survey interviewed 1,800 adults nationwide with a ±2 percent margin of error at 95% confidence level. The World Bank commissioned some of the questions in the survey.
The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to climate-related extreme weather events and sea level rise.
The other day (June 19), the World Bank Group launched the report titled “Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts and the Case for Resilience.” The report says that the rising possibility of a 2-degree warmer world in the next few decades due to climate change threatens to reverse hard-won development gains in the East Asia and the Pacific Region, including the Philippines.
According to World Bank Country Director Motoo Konishi, the SWS survey shows the importance of understanding climate change not just as an environmental issue, but as a serious sustainable development and inclusive growth challenge.
“Many of the country’s poor derive income from agriculture, fishery and natural resources that are vulnerable to climate change,” said Mr. Konishi. “Many of them live in danger zones such as waterways, areas that are low lying and flood-prone, critical slopes as well as coastal zones, making them vulnerable to sea level rise and extreme weather events like strong typhoons and floods. To achieve inclusive growth, it is important to strengthen the country’s resilience to climate change impacts and gear up the economy to produce less harmful emissions through energy efficiency measures.”
Many survey respondents however admit that they have yet to fully understand climate change and its impacts. Thirty-eight percent (38%) have “only little” and 14 percent have “almost no understanding” as against 12 percent who have “extensive” and 35 percent “partial but sufficient” understanding.
Respondents were also asked if they personally participated in efforts to reduce risks resulting from climate change. Thirty seven percent (37%) said they participated in at least one effort (e.g. contacted civil society organizations, gave donations, got together with others to discuss the issue, among others) while 63 percent said they did not do anything.
Thirty-two percent (32%) also said they participated in at least one effort (e.g. attended protest marches, contacted community leaders and NGOs, among others) to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from activities such as deforestation and the use of fossil fuels while 68 percent (7 of 10) said they did nothing.
“Intensifying information campaigns on climate change remains a very important task in the Philippines. With deeper understanding of this complex development issue, the country could enlist greater participation of the people and their leaders, civil society groups, the private sector and media in addressing the challenge especially for the poor and vulnerable. This in turn would provide direct support to the ambitious, and necessary, agenda being set by the Government,” said Christophe Crepin, Sector Leader for Environment in the East Asia and Pacific Vice Presidency of the World Bank.
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