Climate change is a phenomenon in nature that is largely induced by human activities. The main factor in global warming, for instance, is the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere due to the heavy use of fossil fuels in production and other related human activities.
The impacts of climate change are often worsened by the social and environmental costs of human productive or economic activities. Trawl fishing, for example, degrade corals and in so doing, increase their vulnerability to coral bleaching due to rising sea temperature. For coastal communities, the loss of corals means less food fish and loss of barrier protection from high waves. Similarly, the cutting of mangrove forests to develop fishponds deprives coastal communities of mangroves as source of food fish and their protection from rising seas and typhoons .
Vulnerability of coastal areas to climate change
Any impact of climate change in coastal areas is significant considering that the Philippines has 915 municipalities that are classified as coastal and 62 percent of the country&rsquos population are found in these coastal municipalities.
Coastal areas, fishers&rsquo communities and the fisheries sector are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Rise in sea level and warming of sea surface temperature will result in damage to coastal ecosystems and displacement of fishing communities. Coastal inundation will threaten the stability of wetlands, mangroves and coral reefs and negatively affect the viability of the aquaculture industry.
Responding to climate change
Responding thus to the challenge of climate change means that the impacts of climate change on coastal and near-shore fishery resources are taken into account in coastal resource management to ensure the maintenance of coastal or marine biodiversity. Sufficient information for coastal managers to address the risks brought about by climate change is needed as well as identification of policy options and possible response strategies, and initiation of stakeholder dialogues with focus on gender-differentiated impacts.
There is the need to mainstream fishery and coastal resource management as a vital component of a holistic approach to managing the impacts of climate change. This is because in a situation where climate change is likely to continue in the long term, maintaining biodiversity and healthy ecosystems not least in the coastal zone provide the means for adapting to climate change. Therefore, measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions should go hand in hand with measures to improve the capacity of coastal ecosystems and communities to adapt to climate change impacts.
However, the political issue of climate justice should be recognized, according to which the developed countries have a historical responsibility for climate change and its impacts on developing countries for which the latter have the right to demand reparations and restitution. The minimum estimate of the monetary equivalent of what the developed countries owed the developing world from 1800 to 2008 is about USD 24 trillion, and does yet not include the cost of future emissions as they continue to produce most of the greenhouse gasses that cause global warming.
In accordance with climate justice, developing countries have the right to demand that the governments of the developed countries commit to drastic, deeper and unconditional cuts in carbon and GHG emissions without resorting to carbon trading and offsets and other market approaches. They should also bear the cost of funding for adaptation and mitigation measures and should not be passed on as loans to be paid by developing countries.