MANILA, May 14, 2015— Caritas Philippines has voiced on Thursday its concern about the way climate change is hitting the country’s poor people.
As the Caritas Internatiolis general assembly reach their second day in Rome, Caritas Philippines executive director Fr. Edu Gariguez said that impact of climate change will trap more Filipinos in poverty.
“Clearly, climate change and its ensuing extreme weather impact are hurting the most vulnerable countries, like the Philippines,” Gariguez said.
He said that in terms of social groups, small farmers, fishersmen, indigenous peoples, women and children are 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,” said Gariguez, who was among the Goldman prize awardee for grassroots environmental activism in 2012
The priest cited how Super Typhoon Yolanda caused widespread devastation in the Philippines, pushing 5.6 million poor people further into extreme poverty after losing their properties and livelihoods.
“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 added.
Aside from disasters, he also 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, Gariguez said 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 Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines through its social action arm 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,” he said.
Aside from Gariguez, also present in the meeting was Caritas Philippines chairman Archbishop Rolando Tirona.
The assembly will also elect the global confederation of Catholic charities’ new president with Cardinal Tagle as one of the two nominees. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)