PHILIPPINES: MANGROVE TO COMBAT CLIMATE CHANGE CONSEQUENCES?
In recent years, Filipinos have faced new threats of rising sea levels, the increase and intensification of exceptional meteorological phenomena. The country is at the forefront of climate change. It is also ranked by the World Risk Report 2016 third most vulnerable to climate change, after Vanuatu and the Tonga Islands.
For 35 years, the Philippines has faced a natural disaster per month on average. Less than four years ago, the country was hit by typhoon Haiyan, the most violent and deadliest in the history of the Philippines. 8,000 dead and 4 million people displaced according to the Red Cross. Over the year, more than 5.6 million people were displaced by typhoons. The consequences of climate change are visible.
(A view of a coastal Pigcale village hit by Typhoon Melor, in Legazpi)
During our passage on the coast of the island of Mindoro, in the north of the Philippines we witnessed it. Many waterfront homes damaged by typhoon Haiyan have been abandoned by both locals and Westerners who came to spend a few months in the year! These deserted houses in an idyllic landscape echo Felizardo (Sergo) Colambo, President of the Alliance for Green Philippines, who told us during our meeting in Manila that the house of his grandparents had been swallowed up by the waters in only a few years.
Sea level rise is a major challenge for the country as the level increases five times faster than the rest of the world. 70% of the 1,500 coastal communities in the Philippines are vulnerable to rising ocean levels. In response, national authorities have raised adaptation to climate change as a national priority. A flood control plan has been launched, including early warning systems and better preparedness of populations. “No building zones” have also been established in coastal areas to cope with the risk of rising water levels. These areas are expected to result in the relocation of inhabitants to less exposed areas.
Other solutions exist. Several recent reports have revealed that mangroves play a key role in protecting the coastline as a natural buffer, reducing the damage of typhoon and tsunami waves while limiting coastal erosion. Replanting damaged mangroves therefore offers a means to mitigate the consequences of climate change while protecting local biodiversity. After the typhoon Haiyan, the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources has allocated $ 8 million to fund mangrove replanting efforts.
(Residents stand along a sea wall as high waves pounded them amidst strong.)
The country to the 7000 islands has somewhat abandoned the mitigation in favor of its policy of adaptation. However, it pledged at COP21 to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 70% by 2030 without specifying how this admirable objective could be achieved. The authorities have not made any ecological transition and consider the Philippines’ share of world emissions to be minor.
It should be noted that one third of the national energy mix comes from geothermal energy and hydroelectricity. The country has the second largest geothermal potential in the world after the United States and produces a quarter of the world’s geothermal energy … but has a potential to exploit twice as much! Nevertheless, the authorities in the Philippines are still waiting for the countries of the North to financially assume their “historical responsibility” for climate change in order to be able to make their own transition.
CLIMACTION is a french non profit organisation whose purpose is to promote energy transition and circular economy. Two members of the organisation, Thibaut Aaron and Marine Dupont are going around the world for one year to conduct the project Energy Transition Tour. The project focuses on 3 main themes : access to energy, renewable energies, and energy efficiency. By visiting substainable initiatives, CLIMACTION wishes to inform & involve the population as well as promote transfers of ideas through positive portraits, articles and videos.