The COVID-19 pandemic and its ensuing economic fallout have caused massive global disruption and uncertainty that will continue for many months and will have implications for economic growth, the financial well-being of people, governments, and private and public investments.
We now live in difficulty and uncertainty, made more burdensome by the choices of some of our leaders who continue to sow intrigue and hatred, instill fear, and instigate violence as if these could lead us to a safer and healthier society. Unprecedented times indeed.
However, experts have pointed out that this pandemic gives us an opportunity to rethink our old approaches and ways, especially in terms of how we could further incorporate the principles of climate action and sustainability in all our systems and operations.
The skeptics among us would ask, “Is there really a need to talk about climate change now? Why does climate action have to go hand-in-hand with pandemic recovery?”
The answer to our skeptic friends is this: Yes, we have to because scientists have long warned that climate change is a pandemic enabler.
If we wait for the pandemic to end before tackling the climate crisis, we will find ourselves in the middle of another pandemic before we can even start transforming into low-carbon and climate-resilient systems.
If the global community put climate action in the backseat, climate-vulnerable countries like the Philippines will experience more catastrophic events caused by the warming planet.
Impacts of climate change in the Philippines
In the last decade, the Philippines has consistently ranked high among countries most affected by climate change. In the 2021 Global Climate Risk Index by the Germanwatch, we ranked 4th among countries most affected by climate change for the period 2000-2019; 2nd in the snapshot year 2018 and 1st in 2013. The report series earlier cited that the country’s vulnerability stems from being “recurrently affected by catastrophes.”
In the World Risk Report 2019, which also measures the country’s level of development and adaptive capacities to cope with extreme weather events, we ranked 9th in 2019 and 2020—an improvement from our previous ranking of being 2nd in 2014 and 3rd from 2015 to 2018.
There’s a consistency, however, of being included in the list of top countries most affected by climate change in the last decade. This is because we are an archipelagic country situated along the typhoon belt, with an average of twenty typhoons visiting us per year, making response and recovery extremely challenging.
Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda in 2013 was the most notable as it was the strongest, deadliest, and costliest typhoon to hit us thus far.
The devastation of Yolanda was really immense and tragic. But it immediately awakened our senses to address our climate vulnerabilities. We have become the face and voice of vulnerable developing countries that had little to nothing contribution to global warming and yet suffering the most from its impacts.
But while Yolanda propelled the country as the face of the climate justice movement globally, other climate change-related disasters and impacts are affecting and will continue to affect the country.