On Climate Change; Philippines Legazpi City Revs Up Climate Action

It is said that the root cause of climate change is a multitude of uncontrolled anthropogenic activities, the progressive advancements on technology and the series of changes dated back a century ago. Many cities had claimed to be progressed in terms of ecological and social balance. On a more critical note, due to these developments, the environment is continually degraded in terms of perished resources and interrupted biodiversity. Without being aware, the effects were worsening as it was showcased in an article in Manila Bulletin, April 4, 20091. The write-up appealed that the Arctic sea ice is at its highest point of melting since the past 30 years, which, in turn, put the world’s risk of greater global heat and convection. The article added that Mr. Wang, in an interview, said that the continuous melting of these ice would undermine the capacity of the planet to deflect hazardous sun’s rays back to space. The phenomena had been regarded as one of the preliminary signs that indeed the climate is changing.

These preliminary signs ignite the possibility that many countries and nations are going to be affected by this phenomenon. Underscoring that statement, small-island states and archipelagic nations such as the Philippines has been undermined and propelled to experience the worst effects of climate change, destroying mainly man-made structures and the natural flora and fauna processes due to the human infallible and irresponsible intervention with the environment. For instance, the Greater Caribbean Islands pitched the need to allocate funds for climate change mitigation and adaptation process. It merely pioneered the need to uphold certain transitions on the Agreement, way back COP19 in Denmark. Today, the recently held COP22 in Morocco put to promise the implementation of the Paris Agreement to certain member-nations of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)2.

It is purely evident that there is a need for this Agreement as there are several proofs that encompass solutions in a global scale. Such example was seen in the 2013 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). One of the highlights of the report was dealing with the physical changes and processes on the terrestrial and marine or ocean systems in response to the impending change in climate. The reports also reflected the need to efficiently monitor the climate in a scheduled state. As a result, the reports summarized the work of the WGI, in words, “warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen, and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased”3. Retrospectively, the change of climate was not only clearly seen in the past 9 years but has existed way back in the 20th century. Furthermore, the reports show that it is extremely likely that the human influence has intervened with the environment, resulting a dominant observed climate in the last 20th century. With this report, the need to overhaul climate change adaptation strategies is seen as the best asset to confront climate change and its worst manifestations.


Philippines exposure map on climate change

Closely, the preliminary signs analyzed in 2009 were basically a response to the past changes in climate. In a contextualized manner, another published journal in the Philippines entitled 2016 Philippine Climate Change Assessment also stated the same climate readings and predictions. It added that the country has reached an annual temperature mean of 26.6°C, where average seasonal temperature varies from 25.5°C in January (coolest month) to 28.3°C in May (hottest month)4. These temperature readings were observed in Manila, in a report from PAGASA that in the early quarter of 2016, the highest temperature was recorded on the area, meaning that inherent effects of climate change include the increased global heat and temperature. It gradually affects varying lands in the country, most especially taking into account the physical and varying features of the land. Such instance would be seen in Baguio City because the city has an elevated topography over its neighboring provinces, and thus excluded in the annual mean temperature reading from the rest of the Philippines. It implies that those measurements and analyses were only conducted in a similar area with the same physical features and thus the city of Baguio must delve upon making their own climate readings to respond to their adaptation and mitigation strategies set by the government.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia5, also emphasized that the country is a “climate hotspot” which is vulnerable to the worst effects of climate change. As a developing country, it lacks full range access to its resources, thus, limits the implementation of some effective measures to mitigate physical casualties, rapid climatic shift, and sea level rise. Access to these resources can possibly subsist and supply the country’s future developments on infrastructure, communication, implementation of laws and as such, opening the country’s ends to globalization and lowering the heat index recorded in the history. Therefore, to achieve these goals, the country has recently ratified the Paris Agreement that will help the country towards hosting an agreement between the nations on a collaborative approach in dealing with this change in climate. It can also help in reducing the complications and danger brought by climate change, not overlooking the need to entail sustainability.

Likewise, most Asian countries has recorded a low adaptive capacity of human systems in terms of social liberty and entrepreneurship but high vulnerability and sustainability. Typhoons and weather-related phenomena had aggravated the country, yet people’s resilience offer a multitude of solutions to mitigating and preventing major casualties, in that case, way back in 2006, after Typhoon Reming devastated Bicol Region. Typhoon Reming claimed 1,023 lives and left several hundred missing across the province6. Damages to infrastructure, homes and farms due to flash floods, landslides, and strong winds were estimated at 3.2 billion pesos.

After these hazard-induced calamities, many infrastructures are damaged and others are destroyed, and human-related incidents are peaked at high rates. These infrastructures, often destroyed, are cultural and historical in nature. So, mitigation and adaptation efforts must also be focused onto preserving cultural and historical heritages aside from human interventions. This was identified in one of Rohit Jigyasu’s research7. He found out that these phenomena often leads to yielding minimal reinforcements and efforts to local heritage sites and architectural buildings and households due to direct exposure to a changing climate and because the government has levied funds to human nature and welfare. On top of that, it normally reprimands human behavior patterns to rational vulnerability on future catastrophes and they must be seen as irreplaceable cultural assets that will contribute towards “building resilience of communities.” In conclusion, adaptation and mitigation efforts must encompass society’s major components: social and cultural components.

Looking from another angle, the Philippines is considered a tropical country, with two major kinds of climate variability: sunny or rainy8. These weather patterns almost a quarter of a year. From the study of Coronas9, these phenomena caused the country’s annual rainfall count to 965 mm to 4,064 mm. These count can naturally shed water in almost all communities in the country, yet low adaptation strategies have been considered a recent breakdown of the government itself. Topography, vegetation cover, land use, and proximity to water bodies are factors affecting these count at a diurnal scale.

Transitions in rainy to sunny and vice versa at an irregular rate will inexorably pose a threat to the living and non-living biodiversity and as a predominant solution, climate scientists suggested that energy conservation must be observed10. They believed that this can be an effective adaptation strategy in around the globe. It also added that if humans became apathetic and pose ignorance, the world might conjure the worst effects of climate change, implying a number of people would experience the brunt of climate change, especially those from developing countries such as the Philippines and its neighboring nations.

Read: Building a healthy community by increasing access to modern energy solutions: Improving household cooking condition


          One of the largest provinces in the Philippines, Albay Province, aced other cities and places in disaster-preparedness and climate change adaptation strategy and in lieu of the province’s performance11. It has been cited by the IPCC as one of the areas where climate change adaptation strategies are being observed and “leading practices” are met. It added that LGUs are the most important drivers in intervention plans in terms of adaptation. Albay was cited together with other cities such as Toronto, New York, and Mexico as one of the pioneering areas implementing climate change adaptation strategies. Thereby, Albay’s capital, Legazpi City are in the pursuit of a green economy and a hub for sustainable communities.

One of the adaptation initiatives of the province is the “Geostrategic Intervention”. This initiative incorporates social and economic safety by means of relocating business, industrial and residential areas in a safer area within the province. Before relocating them, the province took a rigorous assessment on hazard-prone areas. As a result, less casualties in terms of infrastructure and civil damages are incurred12.

Legazpi City, regarded as a Highly-Urbanized City13, has reached its population record by 250,000 estimated count. According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, the projection was about an average 199,000 last 2016. This population had been scourged over typhoons and other calamity-related phenomena, for which Albay Province gained the title, Vatican of Typhoons14. Legazpi City, as a constituent of Albay’s Framework on Climate Change Adaptation, is in the process of adopting those climate change adaptation strategies and reinventing them on basis of the city’s components.

Read: Relation between Climate Change and Migrant Crisis

As a recipient of DILG’s Gawad Kalasag Hall of Fame Award15, Legazpi City was recognized on its efforts and initiatives on disaster risk reduction and management and abiding with the province’s leading advocacy on climate change adaptation. Because of the local government’s initiatives, Legazpi City attained the National Finalist distinction on the Climate-Adaptive and Disaster-Resilient (CLAD Awards) for Cities and Municipalities16. The said awards prove that Legazpi City thrives to fulfill the city’s goal which is to raise awareness towards climate change and at the same time avoid possible casualties.

CLAD Awards are given to outstanding local government units (cities and municipalities) which have contributed to the disaster resilience programs and climate change adaptation strategies of the government. CLAD are annually held to award six outstanding municipalities in the country (one for both municipality and city). Adjudged municipalities and cities are to receive the People’s Survival Funds (PSF) as mandated in the RA 10174 signed by President Benigno Aquino in 2012 to allow these local units to improve their strategies and lessen the effects of natural phenomena. National funds imparted in the PSF are worth 1 billion pesos. CLAD and Gawad Kalasag has similar criteria upon assessing those initiatives in the local government units.

While the Gawad Kalasag is a renowned awarding body by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) bestowed on municipalities and local units which have outstanding records on implementing disaster risk reduction, it provides recognition to those units which passed their assessment guided by a certain criteria17.

Legazpi City’s climate initiative assets bring forth the researchers’ main interests on assessing the city’s climate change adaptation efforts and its effectivity on mitigating and minimizing large-scale damages on human domicile and properties.
Mark John Dayto
Climate Reality Project Philippines
Intern, International Affairs

1Arctic sea ice melting faster than expected, may be gone in 30 years (2009, April 4), Manila Bulletin.

 2United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. (n.d.). WED 2014 Adaptation. Available at http://unfccc.int/press/wed2014/items/8252.


 3IPCC. (2013). Annex III: Glossary. In S. Planton (Ed.). Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F.,D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

 4Villarin, J. T., Algo, J. L., Cinco, T. A., Cruz, F. T., de Guzman, R. G., Hilario, F.      D., Narisma, G. T., Ortiz, A. M., Siringan, F. P., Tibig, L. V. (2016). 2016   Philippine Climate Change Assessment (PhilCCA): The Physical Science Basis. The Oscar M. Lopez Center for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Management Foundation Inc. and Climate Change Commission.

 5Guerero, L. (Ed.). (2007). The Philippines: A Climate Hotspot, Climate Change Impacts and the Philippines. Philippines as A Climate Hotspot, Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

 6Climate Change Adaptation Best Practices in the Philippines. (2016, March 04). Available at http://greeneconomy.ph/climate-change-adaptation-best-practices-in-the-philippines/

 7Jigyasu, R. (Ed.). (2015, May 20). Building Resilience by Reducing Disaster Risks to Cultural Heritage.

 8Amadore, Leoncio A.  Crisis or Opportunity: Climate Change Impacts and the Philippines, Greenpeace Southeast Asia, 2005.

 7Climate Change Adaptation Best Practices in the Philippines. (2016, March 04). Available at http://greeneconomy.ph/climate-change-adaptation-best-practices-in-the-philippines/

 8Coronas, J. (1920). The Climate and Weather of the Philippines, 1908 to 1918. Manila, Philippines: Bureau of Printing.

 10Guerero, op. cit., p.4

 11Luces, K. (n.d.). Albay cited by IPCC for ‘leading practices’ in climate change adaptation. Available at http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/355386/ scitech/science/albay-cited-by-ipcc-for-leading-practices-in-climate-change


 12Salceda, J. S. (n.d.). Adapting to Climate Change: Strategies of Albay, Philippines (1st ed., Vol. 2) [1]. Available at http://climatechange.searca.org/rokdownloads/Downloadables/ADNs%20webcopy/121ADNCCA201221Salcedaresized.pdf


1317th Annual Gawad Kalasag Awards: 2016, Department of Interior and Local Government. Available at http://ocd.gov.ph/index.php/news/204-ndrrmc-holds-17th-annual-gawad-kalasag

 14Salceda, J. S. (n.d.). Adapting to Climate Change: Strategies of Albay, Philippines (1st ed., Vol. 2) [1]. Available at http://climatechange.searca.org/rokdownloads/Downloadables/ADNs%20webcopy/121_ADNCCA_2012_2_1_Salceda_resized.pdf

 15Calleja, Danny O. March 29 Legazpi takes path to Hall of Fame in this year’s search for Gawad Kalasag awards. Available at http://legazpi.gov.ph/feature-legazpi-takes-path-to-hall-of-fame-in-thisyears-search-for-gawad-kalasag-awards/

 16Calleja, Danny O. (2015, September 14). Legazpi cited top finalist in Climate-Adaptive and Disaster Resilient award. Retrieved from http://legazpi.gov.ph/legazpi-cited-top-finalist-in-climate-adaptive-disaster-resilient-award/

 17Checklist for Gawad Kalasag for Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council. 2015



Read another article of this writer: A ‘penny’ to invest on climate

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