RP tops list of climate change victims worldwide

Environmental group Greenpeace on Thursday demanded urgent climate solutions from the Philippine government, following the release of an international report citing the country as world’s top climate change victim in 2006.

The report “Global Climate Risk Index 2006″ was presented earlier this week by development organization Germanwatch at the UN climate meet in Bali and ranks how intensively countries have been affected by extreme weather events.

“The report validates that the Philippines is clearly a climate hot spot. This should serve as a warning to our government leaders to finally take their heads out of the sand and face the urgency of putting measures and resources in place to help disaster-prone areas deal with the impacts of climate change,” said Von Hernandez, Greenpeace Southeast Asia campaign director.

Hernandez called on lawmakers to “immediately enact the [Renewable Energy] Bill into law, as a contribution to the global effort to
help avert more climate change disasters.”

Last April, Greenpeace released the report “The Philippines: A Climate Hotspot,” which details how, as a developing country, with very little access to vital resources, the Philippines has a low ability to adapt and a lower ability to cope with disasters brought about by climate change impacts.

In 2006, the country was battered by three strong typhoons which left entire regions in a state of calamity with the tragic loss of lives and property. The Legazpi mudslide, triggered by super typhoon Reming, and the Guinsaugon, Leyte lanslide caused by persistent rains, are the world’s second and third deadliest disasters of 2006, according to the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters.

A total of 2,511 people were killed and almost 800,000 families were affected by these tragedies.

Given the current trends in extreme weather, experts say that climate change impacts are expected to worsen in the coming years, and will likely trigger fresh rounds of economic and environmental disasters.

“It is likely that most of the countries identified as extraordinarily affected in this analysis will also become particularly endangered in the future through climate change,” said Sven Harmeling, author of the report released by Germanwatch, in Bali.

Philippine government officials, including President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, have recognized that the Renewable Energy Bill, when passed, can help mitigate the worldwide problem whose effects are especially devastating to developing countries. But so far, beyond the statements which outwardly champion the solution, the government has been extremely remiss in moving the RE Bill forward.

The RE Bill, meant to spur the massive uptake of climate-friendly energy sources in the country, was not even flagged as a priority during the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council meeting last Tuesday.

“The RE Bill is a long-term investment that will help protect our people from the ecological and economic insecurities brought about by by rising temperatures and oil prices. For far too long now, we have heard nothing but empty rhetoric on the part of government officials, while more people and communities suffer from environmental calamities,” Hernandez said.

He added: “It is high time that those words be matched with actual deeds, otherwise the costs in human lives and economic losses will continue to rise.”



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