The Philippine Misereor Partnership, Incorporated welcomes the new development on mainstreaming climate change issues in the local sector with the declaration of Makati City under a state of climate emergency in response to increasing vulnerability to the worsening effects of climate change. We laud Mayor Abigail “Abby” Binay’s decision to declare a climate emergency and thus giving top priority to addressing the impacts of climate change in their city.
While changes in climate have been historically observed throughout the Earth’s geological periods, the rate of its change has been unprecedented ever since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. The Earth is experiencing its highest levels of atmospheric warming in over 800,000 years, and it will only get worse in the coming years. The World Meteorological Organization reported that the past seven years have also been the warmest years on record. With every decade getting inevitably warmer than its predecessor since the 1980s, it is only just and humane to call the resounding alarm of what we are facing now: a climate emergency.
The Philippines is nowhere near safe. The Institute for Economics and Peace named our country as the most at risk from the climate crisis. We also ranked 17th of the world’s most affected countries by extreme weather events in the Global Climate Risk Index (CRI) 2021. As a third-world country, the Philippines have suffered extensive extraction and natural resources destruction at the hands of that that benefited the most from the Industrial Revolution and the modern age of consumption. Now with degraded ecosystems, decreasing forests, and displacement of communities living in a symbiotic relationship with nature, we also suffer the greatest damage from ravaging typhoons, scorching heat, and rising sea levels; coupled with greater systemic difficulty to recover and adapt from the destruction.
Urban cities bear the brunt of water and air pollution, poorly managed waste management clogging waterways and contaminating our resources, urban heat island, worsened floods, and land subsidence due to overuse of groundwater. The United Nations reported that by 2050, 68% of the world’s population will be residing in urban areas. However, our urban cities are not ready for this. A 2020 comprehensive flood risk assessment identified Manila and Quezon City as having Very High and High Risk of floods. Further, a 2020 study found that large areas in Metro Manila, especially those surrounding Manila Bay, have subsided by 2-4.2cm per year during 2003-2011. According to officially requested data from Philippine Reclamation Authority, there are 31 pending and ongoing reclamation projects in Manila Bay alone, spanning a total of 33,651 ha. The unabated destruction of land and marine ecosystems by reclamation, exacerbates the impacts of climate change, and this should be alarming our governments and institutions.
Every event is political, as well as how we respond to it. We laud Mayor Abigail Binay’s decision to emphasize climate urgency and get our institutions to act accordingly. We encourage other Local Government Units to acknowledge the largest crisis we are facing and prioritize mainstreaming climate change adaptation and mitigation down to the communities. We also call on the National Government, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and the Climate Change Commission to go beyond the bare minimum of monitoring targets, uphold climate justice by halting profit-driven, ecologically destructive development projects, and recognize that nature has intrinsic rights to thrive as an integral unit of our ecosystem. We could never go wrong if we are on the side of nature.
Opt for nature-based solutions and pass the Rights of Nature Bill now!