MANILA— Unrelenting march of climate change poses major risks for the development of the Philippines, according to the latest assessment by the World Bank (WB) released this November, a copy of the lengthy document furnished the Herald Express last week.
Titled “The Philippines Country Climate and Development Report, (PCCDR),” the comprehensive analysis details how climate change will continue to influence ability of the Philippines to meet development goals and pursue green, resilient and inclusive development.
World Bank launched The Philippines Country Climate and Development Report last November 9.
Launching of the report was attended by Axel van Trotsenburg, WB Director for Operations, Benoit Bosquet, WB Director for Sustainable Development for East Asia and Pacific, Hon. Robert E.A. Borje, Secretary, Philippine Climate Change Commission, Dr. Antonio G.M La Vina, Associate Director for Climate Policy and International Relations and Manuela F. Ferro, WB Vice-President for East Asia and pacific.
WB’s report tersely noted that climate change will affect all sectors. But the report confined itself to looking into are water, agriculture, energy and transport.
Climate shocks, be these in extreme weather events or slow onset trends of temperature rise, trans- mutating rain fall patterns, rise of sea levels will slow down economic activities, debase infrastructure and bring about deep social disruption, the PCCDR emphasized.
Climate change in the Philippines will continue and accelerate, the PCCDR stressed, further noting that mean temperature in the country has risen by 0.68 degrees centigrade from 1951 to 2015, increasing by 0.1 degrees centigrade every 10 years.
Under climate change, the number of people at risk of hunger will increase by 8 per cent by 2030 and 12.8per cent by 2050, the PCCDR stated.
Rain-fed crop yields are particularly likely to be affected by higher tempertures and changing precipitation.
Areas suitable for producing various crops will shrink, forcing farmers to change crops or cease planting altogether.
Areas that depend on rainfed agriculture and livestock will tend to fare worse, while areas where most agriculture is irrigated will tend to fare better – so long as water remains sufficient and infrastructure in place to store water.
Extreme events may damage growing crops and infrastructure on which agriculture depends.
Such scenarios are just some of many severities that climate change will spawn, threatening infrastructure, economic activity, public service delivery and human health, the PCCRD pointed out.
From 2010 to 2019, about 63 per cent of the estimated the USD9 billion in damages from natural extreme events and disasters were agricultural.
Reduced agricultural production will lead to higher prices, causing significant hardship, PCCRD said, adding that the poor will be most affected as they spend a larger part of their income on food.
Agriculture remains critically important for food security, employment and poverty reduction, contributing 10 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) but the slow onset of climate change perils this sector.
Water, the PCCRD pointed out, is central to climate change discussion, it supporting agriculture, energy, ecosystem, industry, human capital accumulation and health.
Water use dominates agriculture, so is industrial and domestic uses. However, climate change is expected to affect water availability significantly, such effects difficult to predict but, according to PCCRD, will vary substantially across parts in the Philippines.
Projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted temperature in the Philippines will continue to climb by about 1-2 degrees centigrade by the end of the 21st century depending on climate scenario like average rainfall not changing much, variability and intensity are likely to increase and extreme events likely to become stronger and frequent.
Moreover, PCCRD said the number of extremely hot days is likely to dramatically increase. The number of days with a heat index above 35 degrees centigrade will soar, from almost none at present to about 50 by mid-century and potentially rising by the end of the century.
Changes in water flows, as seen by PCCRD, may significantly impact economic activities in the Philippines. PCCRD, for instance, pointed to Northwest Luzon, Central-Southern Luzon and Cagayan where water is already insufficient or close to it.
Any flow reduction would reduce irrigable areas, PCCRD pointed out.
Northern Luzon, where Cordillera Administrative Region CAR is part of, central parts of the country are projected to become wetter while southern Philippines will be drier throughout this year, PCCDR said.
Northwest Luzon like Cagayan and Central- Southern Luzon Basins, where water demand exceed supply, are most vulnerable to changes in water availability. Areas where most agriculture is rain fed will suffer. Many provinces in CAR fall within this telescope.
Climate change will also increase the burdens on already stressed domestic water supply systems, many such systems already struggling to keep up with rapid urban growth and suffering from large water supply gaps.
For example, Metro Manila’s water supply shortage is 915 million liters daily. Higher temperatures will magnify the given shortfall as people use more water to cope, while higher evaporation will result from reservoirs serving Manila’s water urban system.
PCCDR estimated economic damages in the Philippines could reach up to 7.6 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 13.6 per cent of GDP by 2040.
“All sectors will be affected, with capital-intensive sectors likely to suffer most from extreme events and agriculture suffering the most from slow onset trend. The private sector will be severely affected by both,” PCCDR explained.
As to Green-House Gas (GHG) emission, the Philippines is considered a low emitter, at 2.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent, when compared with other Asian countries. Yet, PCCDR expected that by 2030, it is expected to balloon to 399 metric tons.
Such analysis was based, in part, by the energy sector accounting for 54 per cent of total emissions, with agriculture being second large source.
Transport is the biggest fossil fuel-consuming sector and largest source of urban air pollution. Moreover, transport emission will quadruple by 2050. Overall share of fossils fuels in the primary energy supply increased from 60 to 65 per cent starting in 2010 to 2019 due to rapid growth of coal-fired power generation and sustained growth in demand from transport.
Climate change also impacts the financial sector since climate and environmentally-related financial risks originate from physical and transition sources. Physical risks include extreme weather events and gradual climate changes.
Transition risks relate to economic adjustment costs during a transition towards a greener, carbon-neutral economy, explained the PCCRD.
Such risks could be affected by climate mitigation efforts, as abrupt policies to reduce GHG emissions can have negative, short-term economic impacts.
The Philippine aims to become a high-income economy by 2045, but climate change risks looked into by PCCRD are making elusive the objective.
PCCRD undertook the in-depth analysis of climate challenges and opportunities for climate related actions in selected sectors that impact the Philippines’ development ambitions.
Sectors examined were selected based on extent of sectors likely to be affected and where largest number of people are most vulnerable to climate change and likely to be most severely affected which, according to PCCRD can drive them into poverty.
PCCRD estimates that climate change without adaptation will increase poverty rate by nearly a percentage point, economic insecurity by 3.3 per cent and inequality by 0.3 points.
Based on these criteria, the sectors selected to be examined in depth are water, agriculture, energy and transport. By focusing on these sectors, the PCCDR also addressed important issues affecting urban areas.
The PCCDR took note that it benefitted immensely from formal discussions with various stakeholders in the Philippines, from the government sectors being the Climate Change Commission, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and other national government agencies. While from the private sector, representatives and civil societies took part.
Note (The second series of this article will be published November 27 and will present RP’s move to meet climate change challenges.)