New report on ocean, climate change shows ‘disastrous’ effects for PH — expert

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 25 2019 12:58 PM | Updated as of Sep 25 2019 10:33 PM

A woman walks past debris in Barangay Pagbangkeruan, Alcala, Cagayan three days after the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong in September 2018. AC Dimatatac/ICSC/ Handout

NEW YORK - In a few hours, a new United Nations report will be released to the world and, according to an expert, it will detail the ongoing devastating effects of climate change on oceans and vulnerable nations like the Philippines.

“The Philippines will be twice or certainly above the global levels. And that is going to be disastrous to an archipelagic country like us,” Red Constantino, adviser to the V20 group of finance ministers, said of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report to be launched on Wednesday.

“The IPCC Report on the Oceans and the Cryosphere is going to be one of the biggest magnitudes in terms of gravity of its guidance to the country,” he added.

The IPCC is the United Nations body that assesses the science of climate change. It has been producing reports based on the works of hundreds of scientists to help governments develop climate policies based on scientific information. 

The Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC) is reportedly based on the work of more than 100 authors who assessed around 7,000 scientific publications on oceans and frozen bodies of water.

Constantino, said it spells out “in very stark detail the terms of the threat of rising sea levels.”

“Rising sea levels will bring more vulnerability in terms of storm surges,” he told ABS-CBN a day after the United Nations Climate Action Summit here in New York.

“But it’s not just rising levels. Acidifying oceans will threaten our marine ecosystem and certainly melting glaciers will have an impact not just to the global economy but to the country’s very viability,” he said.

Constantino said this is why the country’s leaders need to take into account climate change in long-term development strategies, especially for regions and provinces.

EXISTENTIAL THREAT

Constantino pointed out that this year marks the 10th anniversary of Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana), which left more than 400 people dead because of heavy rainfall and floods.

“Most people have been acquainted with the climate crisis because of extreme weather events. What this report shows is the opposite,” he said. “The other side of impacts of the crisis, which is ‘slow onset events.’”

“These are impacts that take place without the drama of calamity,” Constantino said, adding that it initially won’t be as alarming as extreme weather events that result in dead bodies or large body counts.

“And yet it probably poses a more existential threat to the country’s economy. The very viability of regional economies in the Philippines is at risk,” he said, explaining that some regions may experience more or less rainfall than before.

The report will also tackle acidifying oceans, which is caused by carbon dioxide entering the bodies of water, and changes in salinity.

NO MORE TIME

“The notion of many of climate change is that it is a ticking time bomb. This is incorrect, this is wrong,” Constantino said. “That time bomb has exploded already. Many years ago and it is slowly still exploding in terms of the impacts that are going to wreak havoc in the country’s ecosystems and its economy.”

“The notion that we have a few more years to wait is completely untrue. We are dealing with the effects of this crisis. And it will get worse and it will hit the poor hardest, especially the women unless the government bakes in the crisis into its long-term development strategy,” he added.

Constantino said the government needs to make a plan that will encompass not just the current administration but “several planning cycles.”

He said adaptation would not be enough.

“The fight is now how much we can reduce the harm. How fast we can transform and how quickly,” he said.

At the same time, he said the government cannot do it alone and that the academe, civil society and the private sector must do their part.

NO PROJECTIONS?

Constantino pointed out that of the IPCC authors, one of them is Lourdes Tibig, a Filipino climate expert.

He said the Philippines would benefit more if there were more studies done on the effects of climate change on the country.

“The government is needed to put in far more resources into scientific endeavors because we don’t even know the extent to which harm will befall the country. That is something we need to know not tomorrow but today,” Constantino said.