Mayor disputes climate study

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Sunday, February 9, 2014


MAYOR Mauricio Domogan recently disputed a 12-city study conducted by the World Wildlife Fund and Bank of the Philippine Islands Foundation citing the city as the most vulnerable to climate change effects.

Domogan said the city is not going to face serious impacts of climate change compared to those local governments with shorelines and coastal areas.

Attending a symposium of local scientists recently, Domogan said a 30-year projection of the local scientists show Baguio City will not be seriously affected compared to low-lying areas.

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Without looking into the details of the report of the WWF and BPI Foundation study, the mayor stressed, the city cannot be affected by storm surges and other threats that many in coastal areas experience.

Possible problems that may worsen climate change effects in the city, he said, include overpopulation, including establishment of residential communities even in hazardous areas.

But he said the city is not sitting on climate change as he emphasized environmental protection as the anchor of his administration with programs such as Salaknib ti Waig for river protection and clean-up, solid waste management and reforestation efforts in several watersheds.

The city mayor also has a firm stand on what he claims as the unwarranted issuance of questionable titles to forest reservations, watersheds and parks in the city.

However, without preparation, the city would suffer the effects of climate change as many pending ordinances relating to climate change remain in the drawing board and have not been approved. Among these are the Environment Code, Comprehensive Land use Plan and the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan.

In a previous City Council session, Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda also sought answers from city department heads if Baguio has an existing Climate Change Action Plan, an important component in preparing local governments for the worsening weather patterns.

The city ranked first in the Business Risk Assessment and the Management of Climate Change Impacts Study with a rating of 7.43 compared to other major cities in the country in terms of climate exposure, socio-economic sensitivity and adaptive capacity as the country braces for the worsening climate change effects.

The study started in 2011 with the cities of Baguio, Iloilo, Cebu and Davao joining the first phase followed by Cagayan De Oro,Dagupan, Laoag, Zamboanga in 2012 for the second phase and Tacloban, Batangas, Angeles and Naga in 2013.

Meanwhile, Dagupan City in Pangasinan ranked second with a 6.91 rating while Tacloban City, which suffered the wrath of Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) last November, ranked third with a 6.74.

Other cities found vulnerable to climate change were Iloilo, Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Zamboanga, Naga, Laoag, Davao, Batangas and Angeles.

The study reported that “it is unlikely that Baguio City will experience any of the direct coastal impacts of climate change,” but due to its location in North Luzon which lies in the typhoon belt of the country “Baguio faces exposure to intensified tropical cyclones and extreme rainfall.”

The study said average rainfall in the city jumped from 4,673 millimeters (mm) in 1990 to 6,137 mm in 2009, thus, increasing risk to landslides and flooding.

The study also said the city’s economic dependence on land transportation, through routes made frequently impassable by landslides due to rainfall, will emerge as one of Baguio’s most significant development challenges, as intensified precipitation and storm assault will increasingly marginalize these essential economic lifelines.

The study suggests setbacks faced by the city could turn positive if it only seeks a climate-smart long term development plan, beyond Baguio, La Trinidad, Itogon, Sablan, Tuba and Tublay project, and move it forward as a regional center not only in the Cordilleras but also Region 1.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 10, 2014.

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