January 14, 2015
An official from the social action arm of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has underscored the strong link between climate change and the worsening poverty in the country.
In his position paper during the Caritas Internationalis General Assembly in Rome, (National Secretariat for Social Action) NASSA/Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez stressed that poverty cannot be reduced without addressing the alarming issue of climate change.
“Clearly, climate change and its ensuing extreme weather impact are hurting the most vulnerable countries, like the Philippines. In terms of social groups, small farmers, fishers, indigenous peoples, women and children are identified as the most vulnerable sectors affected by climate change as it threatens both their lives and livelihood. Climate change-induced disasters spell indescribable miseries to our people,” Gariguez said.
Gariguez cited as example how Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) caused widespread devastation in the Philippines, pushing 5.6 million poor people further into extreme poverty as their sources of livelihood were wiped out by the disaster. The total cost of destruction is estimated at around 700 million Euros.
“More likely, super storms such as Haiyan, will be experienced by vulnerable poor communities particularly in the Pacific where ocean warming is being observed which is like to cause more extreme weather events,” Gariguez further explained during the assembly, which also aims to elect a new Caritas Internationalis president this week.
Aside from disasters, Gariguez said climate change also causes irreversible damage to agriculture and marine resources, which again poses threats to food security.
And since climate change likewise disturbs the balance in ecosystems, the CBCP official added its harmful effects on human development such as loss of biodiversity, spread of infectious diseases, urban air pollution, water scarcity, and landslide vulnerability.
“If we quantify the price we pay for climate change…study shows that economic cost is greater than the losses caused by two world wars and great depression of the 20th century. And of course, in the whole economic equation, it is the poor people and poor countries who are to bear the greater share of the burden,” he emphasized.
Currently, the church through its social action arm NASSA/Caritas Philippines is advocating sustainable agriculture and reforestation among its concrete initiatives to address the issue of climate change and its impact on poverty.
It also actively supports the campaign for climate justice, reduction of carbon emission, promotion of renewable energy, and opposition to coal-powered plants.
“Clearly, climate change is a moral issue that we in the Church cannot remain passive bystanders,” the Goldman prize awardee for grassroots environmental activism said.
Jing Rey Henderson
Senior Communications Officer
(0905) 546-9977 / 525-1924