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Poetry in the sky and our planet’s fragility

Bencyrus Ellorin

ON Tuesday, people in Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental were treated to a majestic poetry in the sky.

Mindanao Gold Star Daily editor-in-chief Herbie Gomez posted on Facebook his profound reflection on the wonderful cloud display, saying “Other planets don’t have this simply because they’re waterless.”

On Wednesday, the Mindanao Gold Star Daily came out with a front page photo by Elson Elizaga of the wonderful cloud display along with stories explaining the phenomenon and the impact so far of the El Nino.

Pagasa’s weather specialist Mario Goya however reminded us of the fragility of our atmosphere, the planet’s protected layer which is now in dire crises because of too much concentration of greenhouse gases, the most abundant in our skies are carbons.

“Ang ato ra gyong mata ang mabusog niini kay nindot man tan-awon, pero dili kini makahatag ug ulan,” Goya was quoted saying.

We are in the middle of El Nino with agriculture production and stable water supply bearing the brunt. In Mindanao, it means also that the power shortage will be aggravated.

Eventually, it would be the people that would suffer the impact of El Nino.

The science community is in consensus that adverse weather events like El Nino and its opposite La Nina are impacts of climate change. This will stay with us, perhaps, until the next generation.

Last December, world leaders gathered in Paris, France for the Conference of Parties 21 or the UN Summit on Climate Change of 2015.

The Paris Conference has been hailed for finally forging a consensus on the need for drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emission to avert a 1.5 degrees Celsius mean temperature increase of planet Earth. Climate campaigners who were ready to bargain 2 degrees Celsius were naturally ecstatic. Scientists have warned that unabated greenhouse gas emissions could result in 3.5 degrees temperature increase which means planetary destruction. At 2 degrees, it could be manageable. At 1.5 degrees Celsius, we have a more livable planet.

On Tuesday, I was invited by the Social Science Cluster of Xavier University to be one of the speakers in the forum COP21: Post Paris Forum “Why does Paris Climate Change Conference Matter in the Philippines?”

One of the consensus in the discussions during the forum was on the crucial role of local action to address climate change impacts. I am glad that Xavier University in partnership with the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities and GermanWatch are working on the a Climate Compatible Cities. Among the objectives of this project is to address climate change financing challenges.

Over the years, climate change finance has always been a bottleneck in international negotiations, with poor, low carbon emitter but highly vulnerable countries asking high carbon emission developed countries to finance climate change adaptation and mitigation.

In her presentation at XU last Tuesday, Lisa Junghans, Policy Advisor on Climate Change Adaptation and Urban Transformation of GermanWatch indicated that the Philippines is fourth in terms Climate Risks and Vulnerabilities in the Global Climate Risk Index her agency in 2014. Serbia, Afghanistan, Bosnia-Herzigovina were the top three.

But for 1995 to 2014 it is Honduras, Myanmar, Haiti and the Philippines that rank highest.

Having lead the campaign against the first coal-fired power plant in Mindanao from 1998 to 2005, at hindsight, not much has changed in how our country’s energy policy. While on paper, the Philippine government says it is for the promotion of renewable energy, in practice, it promotes coal-fired power plants.

After calling on world leaders to think of climate change vulnerable countries like the Philippines and echoing the need for drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions in Paris, President Noynoy Aquino went to Davao City for the ceremonial turning on of the coal-fired power plant of Aboitiz Power.

While saying that it will give attractive incentives to renewable energy, players in this segment of the power industry are not happy with the feed-in-tariff (FIT) rates government is offering. In 2012, Cepalco, then the leader in on-grid solar power production with its 1 megawatt solar power plant in barangay Indahag, Cagayan de Oro City, said given acceptable FIT rates, it can build up to 100 megawatts solar power plant in about two years. Unhappy with the FIT rates for solar energy offered government, Cepalco, through is subsidiary Minergy is now building a 165-megawatt coal plant in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental.

In fact, more coal-fired power plants are being proposed in Mindanao at a time that the US and Europe are saying no to coal, and carbon bad boy China now in a frenzy building windmills.

I recall way back in 1998, when we warned about climate change impact, people looked at us as doomsday sayers. We were voices in the wilderness then. Now, with the climate change already upon us, I hope more people, more stakeholders in the community, will rise up to make the target of 1.5 degrees celsius maximum global temperature increase to be fulfilled, not for this generation but for the generations to come.



About mindanao goldstar daily

mindanao goldstar daily
TREND MAKER. Mindanao Gold Star Daily was established in 1989 to set ablaze a new meaning & flame to the local newspaper business. Throughout the years it continued its focus and interest in the rural areas & pioneered the growth of countryside journalism.

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