Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cebu City faces multiple climate change threats – WWF-BPI study

By: Earl Victor Rosero, From: GMA News

Only 21 of the many storms that hit the country from 1990 to 2010 affected Cebu City and more than half of those came in November and December, but other climate change effects threaten the Philippines' second-largest business capital and among them are landslides, flooding, saltwater intrusion, and sea level rise, according to a recently released study.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) – Philippines and the Bank of the Philippine Islands took a close look at the climate factors that influence life in Cebu City and three other cities.
Their study noted that while ”the city reports that it sits 18 meters above sea level (ASL), several districts of the old city are barely 1 to 2 meters ASL. This includes the neighboring island of Mactan where the province’s only commercial airport is located.”
“Saltwater intrusion, due to excessive groundwater extraction, has long been a problem here.  Relatively recent studies indicate that saltwater intrusion has been reported 5 kilometers inshore,” the climate change study added.
Zoning violations put people at risk
WWF Philippines and BPI also learned that non-compliance with land use standards allow the building of homes in areas where there should be none.
“Only 28 % of Cebu City’s land area falls within the range acceptable for human settlement or cultivation.  It is a matter of concern, therefore, that about 64% of city lands are classified by the national government as alienable and disposable,” the study said.
One-fourth of Cebu City’s barangays have a “high threat” level for landslides while another 16 percent of the villages face moderate landslide risk.
“Flooding is a high threat for 6 barangays and a moderate threat for 18 barangays of Cebu City.  This represents 8% and 22% of all barangays, respectively,” the study also said.
WWF Philippines and BPI also point out that “23 of the city’s 80 barangays are totally or partially located in four watershed areas” and some of them are located within “critical watersheds and other protected areas of the city, such as the Central Cebu Protected Landscape (CCPL).”
The study warned of business disruption because “it is already evident that Cebu City’s climate patterns indicate high inter-annual variability, with extreme weather events at both ends of the wet-dry spectrum.”
It challenged Cebu city’s leaders and communities to invest in “climate smart infrastructure and technology” and to rethink its development priorities lest it be  “caught in a ‘climate sandwich’ as saltwater intrusion advances further, sea levels rise and more intense typhoons lash the coastline with storm surge." — GMA News

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