Press Release
May 7, 2014

Legarda: Climate Change Reality Compels Strengthened Adaptation, Resiliency Programs

Senator Loren Legarda today reiterated the need for strengthened programs and effective coordination among government agencies to address climate change and disaster risks, which "are among the greatest challenges to human development the world faces today."

Legarda, in a Senate hearing on the status of the release and use of calamity funds for 2013 and 2014, said that there should be close coordination between the Office of the Presidential Assistant for Rehabilitation and Recovery (OPARR) and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) to ensure the efficient use of funds for post-disaster needs. But she also stressed that there will be less to rehabilitate and recover with effective disaster prevention and risk reduction programs.

"We know that prevention is better. We should see disaster risk reduction as a worthy investment, not a cost. The World Bank says that a dollar invested in prevention yields seven to fourteen dollars saved in response cost," she explained.

Legarda said that various studies on climate change have repeatedly warned of the destructive effects of further rise in the Earth's temperature. It would cause melting ice caps and flooding in many coastal cities; dry regions will become drier while wet regions will be wetter; there will be extreme heat waves, water scarcity, stronger tropical cyclones and loss of biodiversity.

She noted that the May 6, 2014 New York Times article titled, "Climate Change Study Finds U.S. Is Already Widely Affected," stated that scientists have warned that the effects of climate change are being felt "in every corner of the United States with water growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, heat waves becoming more common and more severe, wildfires growing worse, and forests dying under assault from heat-loving insects."

Legarda said that the report clearly shows that climate change affects all nations even a powerful country like the United States.

Meanwhile, the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) revealed that, "throughout the 21st century, climate change impacts are projected to slow down economic growth, make poverty reduction more difficult, further erode food security, and prolong existing and create new poverty traps, the latter particularly in urban areas and emerging hot spots of hunger."

Legarda said that the Philippines has been experiencing the effects of climate change with hotter temperatures, heavy rainfall even during summer months and stronger typhoons.

Furthermore, disasters have been taking a toll on the country's development. Losses due to typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng in 2009 were equivalent to 2.7% of the country's GDP, while losses due to typhoon Yolanda in 2013 are equivalent to about 5% of GDP.

"Natural hazards will happen whether we like it or not, but we can certainly reduce the impacts of these occurrences if we are better prepared. Furthermore, climate change impacts have resulted in disasters of unprecedented proportions, causing multiple losses--economic, social, political and even cultural. We can no longer dismiss the interconnection among the issues of climate change, disasters and poverty," said Legarda.

The Senator said that a study by the Asian Development Bank revealed that the Philippines stands to lose 6% of its GDP annually by 2100 if it disregards climate change risks. But, if the country invests 0.5% of its GDP by 2020 in climate change adaptation, it can avert losses of up to 4% of its GDP by 2100.

"We have seen enough tragedies. Nobody can say we have not been warned. If we need to strengthen our laws on disaster risk reduction and management, we will do so. We must also give climate change adaptation, mitigation and resilience efforts a fair share of the national budget and be placed among the priorities of government," Legarda concluded.

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