THE Philippines and other developing countries must spend $28 billion a year by 2030 to adapt to climate change. These are huge sums by any standard, wrote Lisa Doughtery-Choux for the World Resources Institute on April 23.
“As global temperatures climb, so do the costs of adapting to a warmer world. Severe weather events are becoming more frequent, creating major budget pressures for national governments, especially those in the developing world,” Choux warned.
The financial requirement would be heavy on poor nations with coastal communities vulnerable to the expected rise in sea level anywhere from 52 centimeters to 98 centimeters by 2100.
This rise in sea level would threaten billions of people, she added, “and increasing temperatures and shifting weather patterns threaten major economic sectors, such as agriculture, tourism and energy supply.”
Problems associated with the dire consequences of climate on agriculture have not been lost on the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca), which has been pushing a Weather Index-Based Insurance (Wibi) for Agricultural Production as a means to reduce losses among farmers. In his monograph, “Implementation Issues in Weather Index-based Insurance for Agricultural Production: A Philippine Case Study,” Dr. Felino P. Lansigan, professor and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences of the University of the Philippines at Los Banos, said Wibi and the knowledge about the impact of climate change will teach farmers how to maximize their output, particularly for rice, and resort to the use of flood- and drought-resistant varieties.
Searca Director Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. said the Institute of Global Environmental Strategies in Kanagawa, Japan, supported the study, along with Asia-Pacific Adaptation Network and the Japanese Ministry of Environment. Crop insurance is important for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, since 66.6 percent of the arable land in its member-states is planted to rice, and at least 90 percent of Indonesian farmers are susceptible to climate risks and 80 percent depend on rainfall for irrigation.
Saguiguit also noted that rice and corn yields in the Philippines decreased significantly during the El Niño episodes in 1997 and 1998, and in 1982 and 1983.
Foreign experts have projected rising costs, based on the fact that climate change has become more severe than projected, with some of them predicting a tripling of adaptation costs. “Developed and developing countries are responding to threats by committing increasing amounts of public finance to adapt to climate change, including from national, multilateral and bilateral sources,” Choux revealed.
Public money raised to address climate change in 2010 was a mere $4 billion, but the figure zoomed to $25 billion three years later.
For the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to be held in Paris in December, many nations are expected to accelerate efforts toward climate adaptation. The latest estimate is that adaptation finance must rise by 438 percent in 2050.
“It’s important to tap into additional public-sector finance from developed countries, mobilize private-sector finance for adaptation and increase national spending in developing countries. The Paris negotiations need to help this mobilization process move forward as quickly as possible,” Choux said.
In 2009 developed countries pledged to provide $100 billion in climate finance annually by 2020, but the donor countries did not specify whether the money would go to adaptation or mitigation.