Greenpeace has renewed its call to President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a climate emergency following the release of a United Nations (UN) report showing a “staggering rise” in climate disasters in the past 20 years.
The report released by the UN Office of Disaster Risk Reduction and the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters noted that the Philippines is the 4th country hardest hit by natural disasters, mostly from climate-related events.
“Unless the worst impacts of the climate crisis are averted, the cost in human lives and economic losses will continue to rise to catastrophic proportions,” Greenpeace Philippines climate justice campaigner Virginia Benosa-Llorin said.
“The Duterte administration must use the opportunity of the COVID (coronavirus) recovery to build in strong climate action into a response that will enable the country to weather other future crises that may happen alongside the climate emergency,” she added.
The Global Climate Risk Index 2020 published by the Germanwatch also ranked the Philippines as the 2nd country most affected by impacts of weather-related loss events in 2018.
The country, meanwhile, ranked first on the list of countries facing the highest risk of climate change hazards in another report by the Global Peace Index.
The impacts of climate change—including increases in ocean warming and other climate-related stressors—threaten coastal ecosystems and the services, goods and benefits that the majority of Filipinos depend on.
Greenpeace research as early as 2007 showed that only one of the 16 regions of the Philippines is not vulnerable to a one-meter rise in sea level, and the regions and provinces most susceptible to sea level rise, extreme weather events, and landslides are also among those with the highest poverty incidence.
The group believes that responding to COVID and other crises in a climate-changed world means putting the well-being of people and nature first.
Concretely, this means directing finance to green, people-centered investments across a range of public sectors, such as health, energy, transport, water, food, waste, and education.
This can be reflected in a national budget that invests in people’s health and wellbeing as a strategy for resilience and sustainability, it pointed out.
Greenpeace has been calling for the declaration of a climate emergency that will put climate action at the center of all policy decision-making from local to national level.
It said it is willing to help the government craft the document and ensure the Philippines’ rapid and just transition to a low-carbon pathway through the phaseout of coal and fossil fuel investments, as well as uphold climate justice for millions of Filipinos by holding fossil fuel companies accountable for the climate crisis.
“With strong, coordinated climate action, we can make our cities and country safer and ready for any crisis, through policies that would enable a better normal to protect communities from the effects and impacts of climate change,” Llorin said.