Climate Change in the Philippine Context

As an archipelago in the Pacific, the Philippines experiences the effects of climate change through extreme weather events such as typhoons reaching the (highest) Category 5 intensity on the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale or “supertyphoons’’.

Costly typhoon seasons have become a national reality in the country.  The typhoon seasons in recent decades (1980s to 2010s) have been tallying more deaths and damages. Even the Philippines’ southern islands or Mindanao, once considered ‘typhoon-free’, are now more frequently visited by typhoons: two of the deadliest typhoons that visited the country in the 2010s – Sendong and Pablo – had devastated the region.

Hence, according to the Global Climate Risk Index, the Philippines is among the top five countries that are most affected by climate change.  A study by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has estimated that by 2100, the average cost of climate change to the country would equal losing 6% of its gross domestic product (GDP) each year, which is more than twice the global average loss




Government Response

The same ADB study has estimated that by investing 0.5% of the Philippines’ GDP each year until 2020 in climate change adaptation, the country may avert losses equalling up to 4% of its GDP by 2100. 

Responding to these climate risks, Philippine government has demonstrated leadership through a strong commitment to a climate policy and institutional reform agenda.

In 2009, Republic Act 9729 or the Climate Change Act was enacted into law.  The law mandates the mainstreaming climate change (CC) considerations into government policy and planning.  This piece of legislation provided the foundation for the creation of the Climate Change Commission, the National Framework Strategy on Climate Change (NFSCC) for 2010-2022, and the National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP) for 2011-2028.

As a result of these policy reforms, the scope of the government’s climate change response has been further defined across agencies and at the national and local levels.  Contained in the NFSCC and the NCCAP are several time-bound targets of the government in relation to climate change adaptation, mitigation, and disaster risk reduction (CCAM-DRR).

As signatory to global agreements related to climate change such as the Paris Agreement, the Philippines has submitted its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC), that is to be finalized into Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs).  The NDCs are to be renewed every five years with progressing ambition.

Furthermore, Executive Order 43, Series of 2011, created the Cabinet Cluster on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation (that was later reorganized to include Disaster Risk Reduction or Cabinet Cluster on CCAM-DRR pursuant to Executive Order 24, series of 2017).  The creation of the Cabinet Cluster aimed to facilitate coordination among national government agencies (NGAs), the local government units (LGUs) and other stakeholders on CC adaptation and mitigation measures.

The Philippines is among the countries that have pioneered Public Expenditure and Institutional Reviews on climate change, as noted in the World Bank’s 2014 Climate Change Public Expenditure and Institutional Review Sourcebook.  The Philippine National Budget Memorandum (NBM) 114 called for the adoption of a program approach for budget preparation.  It required government agencies to categorize programs according to five priority spending areas, one of which corresponds to CCAM-DRR.

DENR as  lead agency 

The Climate Change Act, the NFSCC, the NCCAP, the Cabinet Cluster on CCAM-DRR, and the NBM 114 and 118 have designated responsibilities to the DENR. The DENR is tasked to lead the Cabinet Cluster on CCAM-DRR as well as oversee the implementation of the Program Convergence Budgeting for the said cluster.  Adaptation Pillar No. 9 of the NFSCC is within the purview of DENR’s mandate.  The said pillar includes integrated ecosystems-based management, and water governance and management.  Section 15 of the Climate Change Act tasks the DENR with the creation of a climate change information management system.

The Climate Change Service of the DENR answers the need for a unit within the department that will focus on and address these needs.  The Climate Change Service facilitates: (i) the harmonized coordination and overall direction in the implementation of the mandated CC functions of the DENR inter-bureaus and offices; (ii) better secretariat work relative to the Cabinet Cluster on CCAM-DRR; and (iii) the effective and efficient integration and implementation of the Risk Resiliency Program and Risk Resiliency and Sustainability Program, among others.