Poor in Philippines to Suffer Most from Extreme Heat Due to Climate Change

Apr. 19, 2007

MANILA — Environmental activist group Kalikasan Peoples Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE) today warned that the recent incidents of extreme heat and Napocor power shortages affecting Luzon were just the beginning of more climate change-related phenomena that would affect the Filipino poor the most.

Temperatures recently hit 36.8 degrees Centigrade, which PAGASA recorded the hottest temperatures in the Philippines for this year and which triggered scattered brownouts due to the sudden surge in power demands. The weather forecasting agency also warned that extreme heat spells would persist until next month.

“We should brace for more extreme heat spells and its effects on our power, water, and agricultural systems, and their effects on the millions of Filipinos living below the poverty line”, Kalikasan PNE National Coordinator Clemente Bautista warned.

“It’s the ‘little people’ in the Philippines who suffer most from heat spells and extreme weather conditions caused by climate change: those who do not have access to electricity, let alone the luxury of air conditioning and other amenities or travel to cooler climates, for example. Those who can no longer afford to pay such high power rates, or who have access to safe, cheap and potable water services. Those who can not afford hospitalization and medical expenses from asthma or other respiratory diseases which are aggravated by the country’s worsening air pollution problem in addition to the extreme heat,” Bautista said.

“Ironically, it’s not the millions poor people who contribute the most to global warming, but dirty industries and filthy rich transnational companies whose executives can easily afford to avoid the heat spells here. In the Philippines, 49% of GHG emissions are from the energy sector primarily from oil industries, power generation and manufacturing industries, many of which are monopolized by foreign transnational companies such as Petron, Shell and Caltex in the oil industry and Mirant (US), Enron Power Corporation (US), Far East Livingston (Singapore) in the energy sector with its coal and oil based power plants,” he said.

“Worldwide, climate change primarily threatens the lives of the poor from underdeveloped and Third World countries when in fact the United States is the biggest processor and unregulated user of oil and petroleum products all over the world and the number one polluter of Green House Gases (GHG), emitting more than 25% of all the GHGs,” Bautista said.

Bautista called attention to the fact that the Arroyo administration has “not passed or implemented effective policies and programs to reduce the GHG pollution from industrial sources”.

“In fact, in the Arroyo administration’s strategic energy plan, the contribution of coal power plants to energy production will also increase the volume of pollutants coming from the energy sector. Even with the passing of much hyped Clean Air Act, air pollution particularly in the urban areas continues to worsen with the unregulated use of fuel in industries. And high air pollution will only aggravate our extreme weather conditions,” Bautista said. davaotoday.com

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