DAVAO CITY – A climate change official warned that authorities here should prepare for a scenario of prolonged drought in the region up to the first quarter of 2015.
Climate Change Commissioner Lucile Sering made this pronouncement in a media conference here last Saturday after an event with college students.
During an earlier visit to Davao this year, the commissioner echoed forecast that drought would hit most parts of Davao Region including Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental and Davao del Sur.
Sering said officials should foresee issues in food security and energy sources, especially in Mindanao where water scarcity will impact hydro-powered plants, agriculture and agri-business and industries such as coal-fired power plants.
She said local government units may have prepared for the impact of storms due to the impact of climate change, but have done little to address the impact of drought. She said the first important matter to address is food security.
“Admittedly the country is very much aware of typhoons but we have no idea what to do with soil fertility when it comes to drought,” she said.
She recommended that the local authorities should work with the regional Department of Agriculture to prepare for food security and procurement.
“They need to plan right now,” she said.
The commissioner also advised local officials to address not only the short term issues but take long term issues such as crop diversification.
“They need not only address the short term. They need to take into consideration for the long term. This will be a learning lesson. We need to understand what crops to plant, what plants to diversify,” Sering said.
But she pointed out industries such as agri-business, large-scale mining and coal-fired power plants will be affected with the drought.
“The second most affected area by drought is water use. It is controversial here because there are lots of mining activities. They will all compete for the available resource for water,” she said.
Sering said local officials up to the regional development council must factor in drought in their plans.
She added coal energy is another controversial issue as government is pushing for it to address energy needs amidst shortage of power.
The commissioner said the Department of Energy’s predicament is how to supply stable energy without relying on coal.
“At the end of the day, where the price is lowest, businesses will go there. That’s why many investors are into coal,” she pointed out.
Sering said government opted to go into coal energy as the country is not a major supplier of coal.
Sering said coal energy will be more expensive at this period because production of coal energy will rely on tons of water supply.
But critics here in Davao warned of the dire impact of coal energy in the long term, particularly with the operation next year of the Aboitiz’ 300 megawatt coal-fired power plant in Toril, and another 300-MW coal power plant in Davao del Sur. (davaotoday.com)