Sun Star Bacolod
he Philippines has been battered by strong typhoons in this decade. This year alone, we experienced severe weather disturbances resulting in loss of lives, properties, crops and livelihood. Typhoons carry destructive winds, like Yolanda, or lots of rain, like the recent Typhoon Paeng. Experts point to climate change as the cause of these extreme weather events.
Global warming and the resulting climate change, is caused by the abnormally high concentration of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the atmosphere. The biggest emitters of GHG are China and the rich highly industrialized countries like the United States. The Philippines, though suffering heavily from the consequences of climate change, contributes a miniscule volume to GHG emissions. This is climate injustice. Those who are responsible for climate change are immune from its impacts, while those who have contributed least are feeling the brunt of its effects.
Our country is not the only “victim”. Other small GHG emitters are expressing the same sentiment. Pakistan, who recently experienced severe flooding leaving some 33 million people homeless and billions of dollars of damage, is crying for climate justice. Pakistan’s climate minister, Sherry Rehman, called not only for aid, but also for compensation by rich industrialized countries for the damage caused by their GHG emissions.
In the ongoing United Nations Climate Change Conference or COP 27 in Egypt, the Philippines and other climate-vulnerable countries are reiterating their demands for finance mechanism with the creation of a loss and damage finance facility that has been adopted in the conference agenda.
Small island states led by Pacific islands of Vanuatu have long been pushing for this finance mechanism. Low-lying islands or atolls, such as Maldives, fear that sea level rise brought about by melting ice and warming oceans will wipe them out. “Our islands are slowly being inundated by the sea, one by one. If we do not reverse this trend, the Maldives will cease to exist by the end of this century”, said Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, the president of the Maldives, in the U.N. Climate Change Conference last year or COP26.
But so far, only a few countries have pledged loss and damage finance. These are $2.5 million from Belgium, $50 million from Austria, $12 million from New Zealand, $18 million from Canada, and
$10 million from Ireland. United States President Joe Biden announced new funding initiatives, including $100 million for climate adaptation and $150 million for disaster emergency response across Africa.
At the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (COP 15), rich nations promised to channel US$100 billion a year to less wealthy nations by 2020, to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate further rises in temperature. That promise was broken.
For now, the Philippines and other high risk countries are left to mend for themselves with the rich countries throwing token aid, if any, whenever disaster strikes.*