Philippine Climate Adaptation and Risk Reduction Study
The report, “Adaptation to and Risk Reduction in Climate Change in the Philippines,” that the Yuchengco Center, De La Salle University, Manila, published presents a thorough investigation of the country’s exposure, vulnerabilities to climate change, climate projections, other issues related to climate change, the country’s response, and recommendations from the authors.
The Philippines ‘ vulnerability to climate change is due to its geography, location within the pathway of typhoons in the Pacific Ocean, and earthquake-prone Pacific Rim.
The deadliest storm that hit the country in recent memory was Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 that claimed 6,300 lives, displaced 4.1 million families, and affected 16 million people.
Health dangers from increased rainfall and floods
An increase in rainfall and warmer temperatures will raise vector-borne diseases such as dengue fever and other mosquito-borne illnesses like filariasis and malaria. There is a strong correlation between the amount of rainfall and the prevalence of dengue fever.
In 2015, there were 200 thousand cases of dengue and 600 deaths recorded. In addition, exposure to floods contaminated with rubbish and human waste can cause lead to a cholera outbreak, and when ingested, can inflict Leptospirosis, a deadly bacterial infection.
The Philippine climate is tropical rainforest, tropical savanna, tropical monsoon, or humid subtropical in higher-elevation areas characterised by relatively high temperature, humidity, and frequent rainfall.
The country has two seasons – the wet and the dry, which are based on rainfall amounts. The warmest months of the year are March through October, and the cooler months when the winter monsoon brings cooler air are from November to February.
Located near the equator, the Philippines has two prevailing weather systems that influence its climate, the northeast and the southwest monsoons.
During the transition period, the easterlies take centre stage. The northeast monsoon or amihan brings the cold and dry weather, while the southwest monsoon or habagat brings the warm and humid weather from July to September. The easterlies from late March to June would bring cloudiness and thunderstorms.
Climate Change Trends in the Philippines
Each year, eight or nine tropical storms make landfall in the country. In the past decade, four of the country’s ten most catastrophic storms have occurred.
The high humidity and heat in May and June and sometimes up to July are the breeding ground for storms. Rains and with strong winds, called monsoons, would come in July and November.
The Philippines, like most parts of the world, have shown temperature increases. Records from 1951 to 2010 (based on 1971 to 2000) show an average increase of 0.648°C in the last 60 years; maximum day and night temperatures have increased by 0.36°C and 1.0°C, respectively.
There is no increase in the frequency of tropical storms, which is an average of 20 tropical cyclones (TC) that occurs within the Philippine Area of Responsibility. Still, there is a slight increase in the number of TCs with a maximum speed of over 150 kph and above during an El Nino event.
In the past 30 years, between 1971 to 2000, there has been a slight increase in TCs in the Visayas region compared with 1951 to 1980 and 1960 to 1990.
Analysis of extreme daily maximum and minimum temperatures shows a significant increase in the number of hot days but a decrease in the number of cool nights. However, no significant changes were observed in the country regarding increases in extreme daily rainfall.
The Philippine government has started implementing mitigation strategies to limit GHG emissions through various sectors, particularly in the energy, transport, and agricultural industry.
However, the greatest challenge for the country is to improve its efforts towards GHG and align it with it is sustainable development goals.
The country’s climate policy.
At the time this report is published, policy on climate change at the national level is fragmented. Local government unit’s (LGUs) have the best role in identifying the best solutions to address climate change impacts and localise strategies on adaption measures.
Although the country has made substantial progress in institutionalising laws such as the Climate Change Act of 2009, which aims to integrate disaster risk reduction measures into climate change adaptation plans, development and poverty reduction programs, and create the Climate Change Commission.
Other laws include the Clean Air Act of 1999, the Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004, or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000; the main challenge is implementing these laws and making them matter.
Significant findings on climate change impacts and vulnerabilities
Overall the report finds that the mean temperature in the Philippines is increasing, nighttime temperatures are on the rise. Shifting pathways of more intense typhoons and shifting seasons are observed.
There is a decreasing number of rainy days. An increasing number of weather-related disasters such as intense tropical cyclones and heavy rainfall events will lead to enormous economic costs and loss of lives due to a changing climate.
The report also discusses the following topics:
- climate impacts on Philippine forests, watersheds, and coastal sectors
- impacts on food production, the vulnerable population, and health
- climate projection in the country
- infrastructure damage
- legal defences to survive climate change
- sea-level rise
- cross-cutting issues linked to climate change
- response from the government, and
- recommendations from the authors of the study.