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Philippines rated among ‘most vulnerable’ to climate change in new Moody’s ranking

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By Melissa Luz T. Lopez
Senior Reporter

MOODY’S Investors Service said it once again classified the Philippines as one of the “most vulnerable” to climate change in an update of its 2016 list.

“While according to the ND-GAIN (Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative) indices many sovereigns have improved their capacity to face climate change and/or reduced their sensitivity, the Philippines’ capacity and sensitivity have not changed,” Moody’s said in a report published yesterday.

Moody’s lists 36 countries most at risk from climate change. Apart from 28 nations identified two years ago, additions now include Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Gabon, Mauritius, Rwanda, Swaziland, Tajikistan and Tanzania.

“The Philippines’ heavy reliance on agriculture (31% of employment) and high exposure to climate-related disasters (on average 19 events per year over the last decade) imply that it was already among a group of sovereigns that we assessed as vulnerable to climate change — but it is now among the most vulnerable,” the credit rater added.

The Philippines currently holds a “Baa2” rating with a “stable” outlook from Moody’s, which is a notch above minimum investment grade.

Agriculture expanded by 1.5% during the first quarter, accounting for 0.1% of the 6.8% economic growth rate tallied for the period. In comparison, industrial output rose 7.9% while services grew 7%, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority.

The Philippines is one of 20 countries deemed most vulnerable to the impact of natural disasters and climate change. The Finance department has estimated that more than 1,000 deaths occur yearly due to natural calamities, with typhoons accounting for 74% of lives lost, 62% of damage to property, and 70% of damage to agriculture.

The country’s “economic reliance” on farm output threatens food security, spending power and growth in other sectors, the credit rater said, especially for “undiversified” economies which could affect overall growth prospects.

Destruction caused by calamities could affect countries by weakening economic activity, damaging infrastructure, dampening government revenue and diverting funding to unplanned projects related to reconstruction and mitigation.