THE PHILIPPINES was ranked as the third most vulnerable country in the region to climate change in 2019, according to a study conducted by ValueChampion, a Singapore-based financial technology (fintech) company.

According to the ValueChampion study, the Philippines had the highest 10-year climate risk index score among 12 countries evaluated; an average annual temperature increase of 1.45 degrees Celsius over a hundred years; and a 10% likelihood of experiencing a heatwave in the next 20 years.

In the past year, the Philippines bore the brunt of six weather disturbances which resulted in millions of pesos in economic losses per person last year, according to ValueChampion senior research analyst Anastassia Evlanova.

“In 2019, the Philippines six severe weather events resulted in at least $3.53 million (or P171.5 million) in economic losses per capita, one of the highest losses recorded out of the 12 countries analyzed,” Ms. Evlanova said.

She added that climate change has had a “considerable impact” on multiple sectors of the economy, including energy consumption, infrastructure, agriculture and healthcare.

ING Bank NV Manila Branch’s senior economist Nicholas Antonio T. Mapa said the reported economic loss in the study was “quite startling, but likely not surprising.”

“The Philippines is no stranger to the adverse impact of climate change on our economy and our lives as whole…Despite not having adequate funding, we’ve seen the extreme adverse impact these tragedies can inflict on the lives of Filipinos both in terms of general safety and health, as well as on the economy,” Mr. Mapa told BusinessWorld.

He said flash floods, super typhoons and droughts could waylay food security, leading to shortages and high inflation.

“Lack of equipment and foresight may also mean that rebuilding and recovery from these crises may take longer than needed, with the recovery effort likely running up a bill to deplete our government coffers even more,” he added, saying authorities have always had to contend with these factors.

In ValueChampion’s study, the Philippines ranked third, behind Vietnam and Thailand, which were reckoned to be “most impacted by climate change.”

The study based its findings on average climate risk indexes between 1999 and 2018, historical metrics, and climate change projections.

The Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development’s Research, Policy, and Law Program Head Avril De Torres said that the Philippines has consistently found itself at the top of global climate vulnerability rankings by various research organizations.

“While (ValueChampion’s) findings are no longer surprising, it serves as another reminder as to why radical changes are needed in the way we respond to the climate emergency, especially in the energy sector,” she said in an e-mailed statement.

In a separate report published in June, the World Bank said that Philippine public investment in the new normal should focus on “supporting the country’s resilience to natural disasters and climate change to ensure its sustainable long-term growth.” — Angelica Y. Yang