Reduce meat consumption to curb global warming — U.N. report

Marje Pelayo   •   August 9, 2019   •   1042

Global meat consumption must fall to curb global warming, reduce growing strains on land and water and improve food security, health and biodiversity, a United Nations report on the effects of climate change concluded on Thursday (August 8).

Although the report stopped short of explicitly advocating going meat-free, it called for big changes to farming and eating habits to limit the impact of population growth and changing consumption patterns on stretched land and water resources.

Plant-based foods and sustainable animal-sourced food could free up several million square kilometers of land by 2050 and cut 0.7-8.0 gigatonnes a year of carbon dioxide equivalent, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said.

The IPCC met this week in Geneva, Switzerland to finalize its report which should help to guide governments meeting this year in Chile on ways to implement the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Land can be both a source and sink of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming, and better land management can help in tackling climate change, the IPCC said.

But it is not the only solution and cutting emissions from all sectors is essential to quickly curtailing global warming.

Since the pre-industrial era, the land surface air temperature has risen by 1.53 degrees Celsius, twice as much as the global average temperature (0.87C), causing more heatwaves, droughts, and heavy rain, as well as land degradation and desertification.

Human use directly affects more than 70% of the global, ice-free land surface and agriculture accounts for 70% of freshwater use, the IPCC added in the report.

Agriculture, forestry and other land use activities accounted for 23% of total net man-made greenhouse gas emissions during 2007-2016. When pre- and post-production activity in the food system are included, that rises to up to 37%.

Last year the IPCC’s first special report warned that keeping the Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit), rather than the 2C target agreed under the Paris accord, required rapid change across society.

The IPCC warned of more disruption to global food chains as extreme weather becomes more frequent due to climate change and said environmental costs should be factored into food.

It projects a median increase of 7.6% in cereal prices by 2050, meaning higher food prices and an increased risk of hunger.

While an estimated 821 million people are undernourished, changing consumption habits have already contributed to about 2 billion adults being overweight or obese.

While forests can soak up heat-trapping gases from the atmosphere, desertification and deforestation can amplify warming due to the loss of vegetation cover and soil erosion.

Measures to cut emissions, such as the production of biofuels, biochar – made from biomass – as well as planting trees, will also increase demand for land conversion.

Reducing deforestation and forest degradation could result in a reduction of 0.4-5.8 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent, the report said. (REUTERS)

(Production: Marina Depetris)

CJ Bersamin on UNHRC reso: Other countries cannot intervene in PH affairs

Marje Pelayo   •   July 19, 2019

UNHRC Hall | Courtesy: United Nations Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin called the United Nation Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) adoption of a resolution to probe human rights situation in the country as ‘minority’ since only 18 countries voted for it.

Though his statement was brief, Bersamin said other countries have no reason to intervene with Philippine affairs especially its policies.

“Mukhang tama nga naman sina Secretary Panelo dahil minority resolution lang iyan. But you know, I am a member of the Judiciary and kailangan ipilit kong sabihin sa ngayon wala naman kami nakikitang dapat lamang na manghimasok ang taga ibang bansa,” the Chief Justice said in support of Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo’s position on the matter.

(It seems Sec. Panelo was right because that’s only a minority resolution. But you know I am a member of the Judiciary and for now, I am compelled to speak. So far, I see no reason for other countries to meddle in our affairs.)

“Other than that, hindi na ko magsasalita (I won’t say anything more). I cannot be the architect of our foreign affairs,” he added.

The Palace previously called the resolution an insult to the Filipinos.

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), however, clarified that the Philippines will not cut its ties with any member of the human rights body. — with reports from Mai Bermudez

Northward shift of typhoon tracks brings more rain to PH – Pinoy scientist

Marje Pelayo   •   July 16, 2019

Men watch waves crash at the coast as Typhoon Nepartak approaches in Yilan, Taiwan July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

MANILA, Philippines – An average of 19 to 20 tropical cyclones enter the Philippine area of responsibility every year, eight to nine of which hit landmass.

A study conducted by Dr. Gerry Bagtasa of the U.P. Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology revealed that typhoon tracks have changed in the past five decades due to climate change.

Since 2000, Bagtasa explained, tropical cyclones used to hit Mindanao just like tropical storm ‘Pablo’ in 2012 and ‘Sendong’ in 2011.

However, recent observations showed that more cyclones are taking the upward direction towards Taiwan and are bringing more rains into the country than in previous years.

Dr. Bagtasa said that while tropical cyclones enhance the southwest monsoon, about 30% of rainfall is added to the volume of rains the country experiences during a weather disturbance.

When a tropical cyclone makes landfall or directly hits the country, about 10% to 15% of rain is added, the environmental scientist said.

Dr. Bagtasa noted that in the 60’s, the Philippines used to have only up to 18 days of heavy rains due to enhanced southwest monsoon in a year.

But this has changed in the recent years as the country now experiences up to 26 days or almost a month of heavy rains in one year.

“Ang bagyo kasi kapag nasa tabi siya ng Taiwan, iyon ang humihila ng Habagat. Ngayon mas marami ang bagyong pumupunta roon, (Cyclones enhance habagat when it nears Taiwan. More cyclones are taking that direction now,)” Bagtasa said.

Based on his study, Dr. Bagtasa believes the typhoon track will change further as cyclones will move even upward and cross Japan from the years 2025 to 2050.

Possibly, he said, this will reduce the amount of rains in the Philippines and will bring huge impact on the water level in dams.

“Imagine natin kung nawala itong bagyong ito, kalahati ng tubig natin mawawala, kalahati ng fresh water, (Imagine us without cyclones. Half of our water source would diminish, half of our fresh water supply,) he added.

Dr. Bagtasa attributed this change in typhoon track to climate change.

“Maaaring manifestation ito ng climate change, (This can be a manifestation of climate change,) he said.

“Kasi sa nakikita ng ibang mga pagaaral sa paginit ng karagatan dito sa may Indonesia, pag umiinit yung dagat doon yung mga bagyo medyo umaakyat papuntang Taiwan, (Based on studies on the warming of sea surface temperature in Indonesia, when the ocean gets hotter, cyclones move upward, towards the direction of Taiwan,) he said further.

He noted that carbon dioxide (CO2) contributes largely to the warming of the global temperature.

Emissions of CO2 can be traced back in the 17th century and through time, it reaches to a historic high of 406 parts per million.

Though there were attempts to reduce it to 350 parts per million in the past decade, it instead increased year after year.

“Nagsunog tayo ng coal or gasolina, ang lalabas na carbon dioxide, (When we burn coal or petroleum, it emits carbon dioxide,)” Dr. Bagtasa explained.

“Ang kalahati niyan ma-a-abosorb ng karagatan at saka ng mga plants. Ang kalahati ang mag-i-stay siya sa atmosphere for 100 years at ipon lang siya ng ipon, (Half of which is absorbed by the ocean and plants. The other half stays in the atmosphere for the next 100 years, and continues to accumulate,)” he warned.

As compared to other countries, Dr. Bagtasa noted, the Philippines contribute only less than 1% to the global CO2 emissions while developed nations like China, America and the European Union produce 60%. – with details from Rey Pelayo

Senators divided over PH’s possible withdrawal from UN human rights body

Marje Pelayo   •   July 15, 2019

UNHRC Hall | Courtesy: United Nations Facebook page

MANILA, Philippines – Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.’s tweet about the Philippines’ possible withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) earned mixed reactions from members of the Senate.

In reaction to the issue, Senator Panfilo Lacson said the Philippines may face unfavorable consequences in the future with its withdrawal from different UN bodies.

“It may be a matter of time when we will be left to our own devices. We do not know when, but being a developing country, we may need to knock on the doors of the community of nations sooner or later,” Lacson said in statement on Monday (July 15).

For his part, Senator Francis Pangilinan believes there will come a time when the Philippines will have to explain the outcome of the government’s drive against illegal drugs.

“We can run but we can’t hide. Sooner or later we will have to explain if not to the international community at the very least to ourselves and our citizens why tens of thousands have been killed,” Pangilinan said.

“Yet the drug menace has become worse while drug syndicates and customs officials behind the smuggling of tons of shabu through the BoC go unpunished,” he added.

But Senate President Vicente Sotto III expressed support to whatever the Foreign Affairs Department proposes best for the country.

“He would be in the best position to assess what is beneficial for our country as far as diplomacy with others is concerned,” Sotto said of Locsin.

Locsin posted the idea on Saturday (July 13) when a netizen inquired about how the Philippine representation in Iceland reacted to the Council’s approval of Iceland’s resolution seeking to probe into the human rights situation in the Philippines in relation to the Duterte administration’s drug war.

READ: Philippines eyes withdrawal from UN Human Rights Council

The resolution garnered 18 affirmative votes, 14 negative and 15 abstentions. – with details from Nel Maribojoc.


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