"A much hotter world is going to be brutal."
The most important climate change summit in the last quarter century will end, to use Swedish climate change activist Greta Thunberg’s words, in “blah blah blah.” Blah blah is slang for saliva. NATO has come to mean “no action, talk only.”
So far, two things have been agreed upon at the 26th Conference of Parties (COP26), the summit of over 150 nations in Glasgow, Scotland, seeking to arrest irreversible global warming, where the Earth’s temperature would rise by 3 degrees Celsius during 2100 over the average temperature in 1900.
The first is to control methane—the gas produced when cows fart or when you dig for coal. But methane contributes only 10 percent of total global pollution. About 80 percent is accounted for by carbon dioxide. COP26 got its focus wrong.
The second decision is the pledge by some 100 nations, including the Philippines, to end deforestation by 2030 or within ten years.
Not much, however, can be expected from that agreement. The signatories did not specify by just how much they should stop deforestation each year until 2030. Obviously, you cannot say that by 2030, all deforestation must stop. Only God can do that.
Deforestation is the unbridled cutting of trees, so forests disappear. In the past 100 years, the world lost at least 30 percent of its forests. The Philippines, in particular, has lost 90 percent of its forests. Converting forests into furniture, farms and subdivisions results in a hotter climate, loss of biodiversity, and loss of livelihood. Floods become devastating.
Meanwhile, a globe hotter by 3 degrees Celsius is going to be brutal. Says the buzzfeednews: “Deadly heat waves, massive wildfires, and damaging downpours will come far more often and hit much harder than they do today. The ocean will be hotter too and more acidic, causing fish declines and likely the end of coral reefs. In fact, a quarter or so of the Earth’s species may go extinct in such conditions or be headed that way. Our coastlines would be reshaped, a consequence of sea levels rising foot after foot, century after century…”
About a third of the Philippines’ coastal towns would sink.
Warming of 3 degrees, concludes scientists Daniel Swain of the University of California, Los Angeles, is “bad for humans. Bad for ecosystems. Bad for the stability of the Earth systems that we humans depend on for everything.”
The ideal then is to control global warming to only half the 3 degrees Celsius—or 1.5 Celsius.. Based on present trends, the 1.5 obviously cannot be achieved. So world leaders are settling for the next best thing—a 2-degrees Celsius warming.
According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), “limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is expected to significantly reduce the probability of drought and risks related to water availability in some regions, particularly in the Mediterranean (including Southern Europe, Northern Africa and the Near-East), and in Southern Africa, South America and Australia. About 61 million more people in Earth’s urban areas would be exposed to severe drought in a 2-degree Celsius warmer world than at 1.5 degrees warming.”
And “between 184 and 270 million fewer people are projected to be exposed to increases in water scarcity in 2050 at about 1.5 degrees Celsius warming than at 2 degrees warming. Risks for groundwater depletion are projected to be greater at the higher temperature threshold as well.”
Meanwhile, the Philippines has pledged to cut its emissions by 75 percent by 2030. The pledge has two conditions: one, if the Philippines goes solo with the cutbacks, it will reduce only by 2.7 percent; two, if it gets the cash from donor countries, it can deliver the remaining 72.3 percent.
Obviously, the Philippines won’t get all the money it needs to reduce 72 percent of its emissions. Removing the 72 percent will cost easily $130 billion, or $13 billion per year, money the Philippines cannot afford to spare, especially with the current pandemic, economic crisis, and massive joblessness (half of voters are jobless), Most of the $130 billion will be shouldered by the private sector.
The Philippines emits only 0.3 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Obviously, Filipinos should now worry about pollution. However, the Philippines is Top 3 in countries at highest risk to climate-related disasters.
Climate-induced hazards caused a loss of P463 billion in infrastructure alone from 2010 to 2019; P113.4 billion in 2020, according to government data.
In the next 50 years, the country has a 40 percent chance of experiencing a loss exceeding P989 billion, and a 20 percent chance of experiencing a loss exceeding P1.53 trillion—due to hazards caused by climate change.