On Feb. 28, 2022, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the second of its three-part Sixth Assessment Report (AR6).
The Working Group II (WG2) contribution to the AR6 focuses on Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability as it provides an assessment of the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change, negative and positive consequences of climate change, and options for adaptation.
Established in 1988 by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the IPCC is the international scientific authority on climate change and global warming. With its First Assessment Report released in 1990, it has published scientific assessments on climate change, its impacts and potential future risks, and options for response strategies every six to seven years. Hundreds of scientists and experts from around the world assess thousands of scientific, technical, and socio-economic literatures to produce these reports.
As with previous assessment cycles, the AR6 comprises three Working Group contributions. The Working Group 1 (WG1) contribution, released on Aug. 9, 2021, addresses the most up-to-date physical understanding of the climate system and presents evidence that climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying. The Working Group 3 (WG3) contribution, which focuses on Mitigation of Climate Change, will be released in April 2022.
The WG2 report focuses on the risks and impacts of climate change from a worldwide to a regional view of ecosystems (terrestrial, coastal, water, food, agriculture, fisheries, forestry, health) and biodiversity, as well as the implications to humans and societies, cultures, livelihoods, and settlements.
As the report also considers the vulnerabilities, capacities, and limits of the natural world and human societies, it also exhibits adaptation (and mitigation) responses and options across sectors and regions. Similarly, the report discusses the limits to existing adaptation strategies, enabling institutions, and climate-resilient development pathways.
Of the 270 authors of the WG2, three are Filipino scientists—Dr. Rodel D. Lasco (Oscar M. Lopez Center), Dr. Rosa Perez (Manila Observatory), and Dr. Juan Pulhin (University of the Philippines Los Baños). Dr. Lasco is one of the coordinating lead authors of Chapter 5 on Food, Fibre, and other ecosystem products and a drafting author of the IPCC AR6 WG2 Summary for Policymakers. Dr. Pulhin is a lead author of Chapter 10 on Asia while Dr. Perez is also a lead author of Chapter 18 on climate-resilient development pathways.
The information provided by the IPCC reports serves as the basis for key inputs to international negotiations to develop climate policies, including in the recently concluded Conference of the Parties (COP) 26. As one of the most vulnerable countries in the world to the impacts of climate change, it is imperative that the Philippines’ policymakers, local government units, and stakeholders, including the private sector, use these reports as guides in their decision making processes toward science-based climate change adaptation and disaster risk management.
The understanding of global trends and adaptation mechanisms of other highly vulnerable developing countries can also help local climate change actors in relevant sectors situate their current risk profiles and adopt appropriate measures aligned with the mainstreaming strategies of the country’s National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP).
The AR6 WG 1 findings indicate that the impacts the country is already experiencing from climate change will worsen. Increased temperatures will exacerbate current climate risks, such as sea-level rise, more intense tropical cyclones, increased rainfall, compounded extreme events, and droughts and heatwaves. With the Philippines having a lower coping capacity to the damaging effects of these impacts, continued conversations by stakeholders will be all the more necessary.
To discuss the highlights of the AR6 WG2 and the findings’ implications to the Philippines, the Filipino WG2 authors were at a Stakeholders’ Briefing on March 3, organized by the Manila Observatory, National Resilience Council (NRC), Oscar M. Lopez Center (OML Center), and the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB) Interdisciplinary Studies Center for Integrated Natural Resources and Environment Management (INREM).
The OML Center, together with the Climate Change Commission (CCC), has also been working on providing a localized assessment report with particular focus on the Philippines. First published from 2016 to 2018, the Philippine Climate Change Assessment Report (PhilCCA) provides a synthesis of the state of scientific knowledge on climate change in the country, its impacts, the vulnerabilities of various sectors, and adaptation and mitigation strategies that can be instrumental in shaping policies to help build the resilience of Filipinos.
The second cycle of the PhilCCA, synthesizing the scientific literature published within the last five years, is currently underway.
About the authors
Kato Sarmiento describes her expertise as communication wrangling for mission-oriented organizations. She is a Climate Reality Leader and currently the communications manager at the Oscar M. Lopez Center where she works with scientists and experts in communicating the relevance, risks, and impacts of the changing climate to Philippine communities.
Ayn Torres heads the knowledge production team of the Oscar M. Lopez Center. Her research experience includes impacts and adaptation to climate change in the Philippines, analysis of economic policy and governance issues in Philippine agriculture and natural resources, and private-sector-led development initiatives in the country.
ViAnn Bagulbagul is also a part of the knowledge production team of the Oscar M. Lopez Center where she works with scientists on studies on climate science and climate change impacts in the Philippines.