ICSC calls for increased global, PH action vs. climate crisis

MANILA, 9 August 2021 – A United Nations climate science report released today shows the urgent need to act on climate change to avoid the worst of climate impacts as record-breaking storms, floods, fires, and heatwaves across the world continue to sound the alarm of a global climate emergency.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first of its four-part 6th Assessment Report (AR6), which build on 30 years of climate science. This first report, which focuses on the latest physical climate science, shows that “human-induced climate change is already affecting many weather and climate extremes in every region across the globe. Evidence of observed changes in extremes such as heatwaves, heavy precipitation, droughts, and tropical cyclones, and, in particular, their attribution to human influence, has strengthened since the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5).”

The product of 234 of the world’s leading scientists reviewing, assessing, debating and finalizing analysis of over 14,000 scientific research papers, six items stand out for the Philippines amidst a barrage of compelling scientific evidence:

  1. “Unequivocal” – there is no wiggle room in interpreting the IPCC’s use of the word in AR6. It goes beyond what is already an unprecedented assertion reaffirming “with high confidence the AR5 finding that there is a near-linear relationship between cumulative anthropogenic CO2 emissions and the global warming they cause.”
  2. Breaching the Paris Agreement threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius (°C) will impose far more severe impacts that will prove catastrophic to vulnerable communities around the world, as every additional increment of global warming will increase changes in extremes, including the intensity and frequency of heatwaves, heavy precipitation, as well as droughts.
  3. AR6 rings the alarm bells stating we are today flirting with “tipping points”, such as rapid ice sheet melt that could lead to catastrophic sea level rise even before 2100.
  4. Keeping to the 1.5˚C temperature threshold is urgent. The IPCC has reaffirmed the huge difference in impacts between 1.5C and 2C degrees of warming. In the long-run, at least 3 metres of sea level rise can be avoided if we limit warming to 1.5˚C instead of 2˚C. Limiting warming to 1.5°C would strongly reduce climate risks and avoid the most destructive impacts of climate change and reduce impacts by at least 50% compared to a 4°C world. This is true for heat waves, extreme precipitation and drought in drying regions.
  5. Keeping to the 1.5˚C temperature threshold is within reach. The AR6 report considers a small set of illustrative emissions scenarios that explore different climate futures. The lowest of those scenarios shows what is required to keep 1.5°C within reach reaffirming findings from the IPCC 1.5°C Special Report and other organisations such as the International Energy Agency (IEA). In order to limit warming to 1.5°C, deep and sustained emission reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gases is required – starting not tomorrow but today.
  6. Keeping to 5°C of global warming will still pose existential risks to millions of Filipinos. Even at 1.5°C of global warming, extreme climate risks such as heat waves, heavy rainfall, drought and storms will become more intense and frequent around the globe.

Reacting to the report, Denise Fontanilla, associate for policy advocacy of the Manila-based NGO Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, said:

“Without action resulting in drastic and deep emissions cuts among developed nations, and in the absence of predictable and adequate provisions of finance, speeches sounding the alarm from so-called world leaders is rhetorical bling.

“The IPCC’s latest report clearly shows how the climate crisis has imposed and will continue to impose unspeakable violence on millions of vulnerable communities globally, all because rich countries, and elites around the world – including in the Philippines – are unwilling to take responsibility for their failure to curb their continued addiction to fossil fuels.

“The IPCC also provides certainty that the 1.5°C warming threshold is still within reach and that all countries, including the Philippines, need to contribute everything they can to help mitigate global greenhouse gas emissions. If we are to survive and thrive, we need to see transformation within a decade in terms of the country’s electricity and transport sectors, where renewable energy, active mobility and mass public transport become the priority.

“However, it needs to be said just as clearly that keeping to 1.5°C of global warming will still pose existential risks to millions of Filipinos. The Philippines should pursue sustainable development more aggressively rather than just reducing emissions as the overarching goal. Adaptation must remain as the country’s climate response anchor, with resilience guiding the country’s long-term decarbonization agenda. The climate crisis must be baked in the country’s long-term development strategies, certainly well beyond this administration or the next.”


Rowena Cahiles , weng@icsc.ngo, +63 917 851 4890

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