'In a country like Philippines...'

When members of the Majority World, including the Philippines, are too busy addressing hunger and poverty to deal with the problem of climate change, there are other baby steps that may be taken to face the problem just the same.

It’s one of the lessons I learned in Lisbon, Portugal during the reporting trip on water and climate change, organized by the Netherlands-based European Journalism Centre.

Rui Cavaleiro Azevedo, press officer of the European Commission Representation in Portugal, said that there are several ways by which countries like the Philippines can learn from Portugal in the area of climate change adaptation.

‘So what if countries such as the Philippines are too busy dealing with poverty and hunger? How do we find the time and the resources to deal with the problem of climate change?’ I asked experts on climate change during the first day of the reporting trip.

It’s a valid question, they replied.

At the same time, they also said that there are still some baby steps that developing countries can learn without necessary spending huge portions of the state budget. Commuting, traveling less, sharing car trips or carpooling, using solar energy as source of power are just among the measures that developing countries may practise without necessarily spending more, Azevedo said.

Tiago Capela Lourenco. Photo by author.

‘It’s basic to recognize and discuss the problem of climate change so that the people become aware,’ said Tiago Capela Lourenco, Project Coordinator at the Foundation Faculty Sciences of the University of Lisbon.

In Portugal, the government has encouraged the use of hydropower to save on energy and reduce carbon emissions. Other European countries such as the Netherlands have been doing the same thing.

According to a separate document provided by the government of Portugal to participants of the global blogging competition TH!NK 5, the large hydro is crucial in the panorama of renewable energies.

‘Dam type hydroelectric power plans are also important for controlling floods, moderating peak consumption and stabilizing the grid in general, since their startup time is very short relatively to thermoelectric power plans and plus they do not spend energy while in stand-by. In the future, they will certainly continue to play a major role, possibly even more nowadays, given their additional value for storing large amounts of energy – in fact they are currently the only technically and economically viable solution. In Portugal, it seems that the hydropower potential left to explore would be 40 per cent of the total; recently, new dams have been announced,’ according to the government’s Mitigation Strategies in Portugal.

Some advice, however, poses more problems than solutions.

In the Philippines, for instance, the construction of dams has severely displaced a lot of people – mostly indigenous groups who live on the hectares and hectares of ancestral lands that are the favorite sites of companies to put up these dams. Worst, people get killed when they oppose the construction of these dams.

Without doubt, climate change is a huge problem. But in a country like the Philippines, the government needs to work double time to look into the situation while at the same time addressing the major and very basic problems of poverty and hunger.

And this is indeed one of the important lessons I learned from my visit to Lisbon.

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