Editorial: The economics of climate change

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

THERE was Sendong that just marked its second anniversary. There was Pablo, which again just marked its first anniversary.

We’re not well-apprised about the situation of Sendong survivors, but we can state for sure that those who survived Pablo are still not well on their way to the life they once enjoyed. Ahead of them is still a long struggle. But they have just been forgotten after the wrath of Yolanda.

Government can say they have provided all that they can and that they are now in the rebuilding phase. By now we know there is more air in our government than substance; we only need to look at how the bunkhouses in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental are becoming permanent structures for the poor to squeeze in. Sorry, government is busy with other things, “bahala kayo sa buhay niyo”.

No. Don’t believe them when they say we’re a-okay. We’re not, and we \will be in worse situation as year after year, disasters worsen. You may ask, what could be worse than a typhoon that went beyond Category 5? We asked that too when we saw Sendong and then when we saw Pablo.

Nothing is impossible with the way climate is bringing on these weird weather conditions. It just snowed in Vietnam…

It will impact not just our personal lives and investments, it will impact on our industries, our food, our agriculture, and just about everything that affects our lives.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) itself recognizes this for the whole of the Pacific, and thus came out with “The Economics of Climate Change in the Pacific” to estimate the range of potential economic impacts of climate change for specific sectors and for overall economies of the region under various emissions scenarios. (http://www.adb.org/sites/default/files/pub/2013/economics-climate-change...)

Yes, it’s talking about the small island nations in the Pacific. But the comprehensive outlook it provides is something that all lawmakers and leaders in our most disaster-prone country should take a close look at, to create parallels and corresponding actions.

The ADB, like any multinational financial institutions, does not need to curry their views with good news when the scenario is actually bad.

Rather, such institutions will dish out recommendations because their means of sustenance is the financial stability of its clients. The Philippines, can never be financially resilient as we are always led to believe with all these disasters striking us. We just have to prepare for the worst, no matter what hogwash we are being fed through official channels.

It will be of great help if our local legislators take heed as well and act as necessary. It’s their people, after all who will be most affected, their homes as well.

The two policy implications the report concludes with are:

Mainstreaming climate change actions in development planning is crucial to minimize the impacts of climate change, and a forward-looking adaptation strategy is key to addressing the multitude of climate change impacts, with low-regret options and built-in flexibility as basis for a robust adaptation pathway.

We have to look beyond relief and search and rescue. By this time, the work of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and its top honcho Dinky Soliman should share equal importance with the work of scientist and those in research and development because the challenge we are facing is all about climate change and how it will affect our agriculture, our fisheries, our industries, and our people. Our people can never live on relief goods all the time. Our leaders simply have to pave the way and lead us toward adaptation and mitigation measures, not noodles and canned goods. This is more crucial today than ever because our top leaders have already told us, we are on our own.

Bahala tayo sa buhay natin. Ergo, let us work as one people to push and drag and roll them over to see beyond the pile of rotting rice and repacked relief goods. In a democracy, the people rule, and Dinky is not a queen.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on December 18, 2013.


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