May 28, 2022
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As living costs surge, climate change takes a backseat in elections

As living costs surge, climate change takes a backseat in elections

KUALA LUMPUR/MANILA/RIO DE JANEIRO — Within the seaside city of Palo in the central Philippines, George Christopher Daga has watched torrential rain pour for days throughout what is meant to be a scorching and dry April — simply one of many uncommon climate patterns he has confronted in current years. 

His dwelling province of Leyte, the place Palo is positioned, has been floor zero for the nation’s most damaging climate occasions since 2013, when Storm Haiyan struck the Southeast Asian nation, killing 6,300 individuals and flattening buildings. 

Yet one more storm, Rai, left a path of destruction in Leyte and close by provinces in December, with greater than 300 individuals killed and a whole lot of 1000’s displaced. 

“The world is getting crazy. We don’t understand the weather these days,” Mr. Daga, 33, advised the Thomson Reuters Basis. 

However Mr. Daga — who misplaced his job as a utility employee in the course of the coronavirus illness 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic — mentioned climate change isn’t his prime concern as Filipinos go to the polls on Might 9 to elect a new president. 

The difficulty has hardly figured on the marketing campaign path in the disaster-prone Philippines — simply one in all a number of international locations with elections this yr the place world warming has taken a backseat. 

As COVID-19 has exacerbated economic and social inequalities, jobs and livelihoods have dominated the election agenda amongst politicians vying for votes, analysts mentioned. 

That’s the case even in hard-hit international locations just like the Philippines, which sees a mean of 20 tropical cyclones annually and is among the nations most weak to climate disasters. 


From warmth to drought, climate change impacts have gotten extra frequent and intense — however efforts to slash emissions and adapt to world warming are each lagging, the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned this month. 

Regardless of that, as international locations from the Philippines to Lebanon and Brazil gear up for elections, climate change has not featured as a main subject. Somewhere else, like France, inexperienced events haven’t made advances in current votes. 

One in a sequence of Philippine presidential debates this yr centered for the primary time on climate change, however in any other case the problem has acquired little consideration in the campaigns. 

“For it to be high on the agenda of politicians, it has to be framed as a livelihood issue” specializing in losses of incomes, crops and property, mentioned Jean Encinas Franco, a political scientist on the College of the Philippines. 

She mentioned larger efforts wanted to be made to attract the “hidden” hyperlink between world warming and voters’ considerations on livelihood or starvation so climate change might be seen as a extra urgent election subject. 

“In the end, candidates have to relate an issue to its potential to garner votes,” Ms. Franco mentioned. 

In Lebanon, climate change and renewable power haven’t risen as key points forward of the nation’s Might 15 parliamentary elections though the nation has suffered extreme energy cuts since mid-2021. 

In Australia, the 2 major events contesting the Might 21 nationwide elections have mentioned they’d proceed to assist coal exports, regardless of an growing majority of Australians supporting a ban on new coal mines and wanting exports minimize. 


Politicians who’ve proven how they might help individuals address COVID-19-related financial fallout and rising inflation have proved fashionable in current elections, famous climate coverage skilled Danny Marks. 

“Although I think many voters throughout the globe care about climate change and the threats it poses, currently it is low on the list of their priorities,” mentioned Mr. Marks, an assistant professor of environmental politics at Dublin Metropolis College. 

He cited the instance of France’s Greens social gathering which had a poor displaying in this month’s presidential election, with its candidate Yannick Jadot eradicated in the primary spherical of voting. 

Against this, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who pivoted from her social gathering’s anti-immigration insurance policies to focus her marketing campaign on the rising price of living, got here in second, behind President Emmanuel Macron. 

Mr. Marks urged politicians who care about climate change to spotlight the quick advantages of a inexperienced shift, equivalent to renewable power jobs and enhancements to public well being. 

Within the Philippines, many individuals look to personalities and ties with candidates, quite than the problems, in casting their votes, political analysts say. 

Like most individuals in his province, Mr. Daga is supporting Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. — the son of the late dictator and a frontrunner in the presidential race — as a result of his mom Imelda is a native of Leyte. 

“I will vote for Bongbong because he had helped us during Typhoon (Haiyan),” mentioned Mr. Daga, shrugging off considerations that Marcos lacks clear plans on the best way to deal with climate change. 


In Brazil, the place President Jair Bolsonaro is anticipated to face former chief Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in October’s elections, climate change and the atmosphere should not main considerations for the voters, opinion polls recommend. 

One, by consultancy Quaest this month, confirmed the financial system was the most important subject for practically half of about 2,000 individuals surveyed, because the South American big struggles with inflation, unemployment and low progress. 

Others polled cited healthcare and corruption as key considerations. Climate change didn’t make the listing. 

“The economy and corruption — unfortunately those will be the main issues,” mentioned Christiane Romeo, a professor of political science at Ibmec college in Rio de Janeiro. 

“I wouldn’t bet on the environment as an issue capable of bringing votes,” Ms. Romeo added. 

South Korean pupil Dayeon Lee mentioned she hoped politicians in her nation — and elsewhere — would take heed to considerations about climate change. 

South Koreans elected opposition candidate Yoon Suk-yeol because the nation’s new president in March, in an election dominated by debates on rising home costs and youth unemployment. 

“The climate crisis had not been given much attention in the March elections. It’s a shame,” mentioned Ms. Lee, 19, who voted for the primary time in the polls, from her dwelling in the southeastern metropolis of Daegu. 

“The crisis is getting more severe yet it seems like no one is paying attention. This is really scary.” — Beh Lih Yi, Manuel Mogato, and Fabio Teixeira/Thomson Reuters Basis

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