Philippine Rep Makes Plea for 'Global Solidarity' to Fight 'Climate Madness'

November 6, 2020 0 By HearthstoneYarns

The climate crisis is “madness” and environmentally vulnerable nations such as the Philippines do not have time for failed climate negotiations, Philippines climate negotiator Naderev “Yeb” Saño told the delegation at the 19th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP19) Monday as he vowed to go on hunger strike until “clear progress is made.”

Saño, the Philippine Climate Change Commissioner, delivered his address during the opening session of the 12-day climate talks in Warsaw, Poland three days after Typhoon Haiyan made landfall, wreaking havoc across his island nation.

“What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness,” Saño told the assembly, describing the massive devastation and thousands feared dead following Typhoon Haiyan, the “strongest in modern recorded history.”

“We can stop this madness. Right here in Warsaw,” he added, appealing to the representatives of nearly 200 countries who assembled in a bid to reach a new agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol that expired last year. Many anticipate the talks will only amount to a 2015 agreement for new limits on greenhouse gas emissions.

“Typhoons such as Haiyan and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to delay climate action,” Saño continued.

His comments Monday echoed those made during last year’s UN climate conference in Doha, Qatar when Saño—pointing to both Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Bopha as “clear examples” of climate change—demanded a call for urgency in the climate debate.

“We need not engage in the perpetual debate on whether climate change is happening or not,” he said at the time. 

The Doha climate talks amounted to little more than a “sham of a deal”—as described by Friends of the Earth International spokesperson Asad Rehman—as rich nations failed to take responsibility for their outsized carbon footprints or increase their financial commitments to developing nations.

To climate change deniers, or those countries who are less impacted by the effects of global warming and therefore are less motivated to enact meaningful change, Saño challenged them before the Warsaw assembly,  saying, “I dare them, I dare them to get off their ivory towers and away from the comfort of their armchairs.”

He continued:

Even with developed nations establishing dramatic emissions reduction targets, he said, it is “too late” and that we are “locked-in” to climate change and now need to look forward to the issue of loss and damage.

“We have entered a new era that demands global solidarity in order to fight climate change and ensure that the pursuit of sustainable human development remains at the fore of the global community’s efforts,” he said, adding, “We cannot sit and stay helpless staring at this international climate stalemate. It is now time to raise ambition and take action. We need an emergency climate pathway.”

Saño concluded his speech by acknowledging the personal toll of the storm, saying that his family hails from the devastated town of Tacloban where Haiyan made landfall on Friday.

Further impressing the severity of his commitment and the urgency of a climate agreement, Saño pledged to go on hunger strike until “clear progress is made,” saying, “In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home and with my brother who has not had food for the last three days… I will now commence a voluntary fasting.”

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Mr President, I have the honor to speak on behalf of the resilient people of the Republic of the Philippines.

At the onset, allow me to fully associate my delegation with the statement made by the distinguished Ambassador of the Republic of Fiji, on behalf of G77 and China. We likewise join others in congratulating you for your election of COP19.

The people of the Philippines, and our delegation here in Warsaw, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your expression of sympathy and solidarity to my country in the face of this national difficulty. The white flowers that you have bestowed upon my delegation that symbolize Poland’s sympathy with the Philippines are deeply and profoundly cherished so thank you for this very heartwarming gesture.

In the midst of this tragedy, one which you correctly referred to as a painful awakening, my delegation finds comfort in the warm hospitality of Poland, for welcoming us to this very beautiful and charming city of Warsaw, with your people offering us warm smiles everywhere we go: in the hotels, around the streets, with the stewards and personnel in this National Stadium. So, thank you again. Thank you, Poland.

The arrangements you and the secretariat have made for this COP is also most excellent and we highly appreciate the tremendous effort you have put into the preparations for this important meeting.

We also thank all of you, friends and colleagues gathered in this hall and from all corners of the world as you stand beside us in this trying time. I thank all countries and governments who have extended your solidarity and for offering assistance to the Philippines. We thank the youth present here and the billions of young people all over the world who stand steadfast with the Philippines, and who are carefully watching us as we craft their future.

I thank civil society, both who are working on the ground as we race against time in the hardest hit areas, and those who are here in Warsaw prodding us to have a sense of urgency. We thank the media as well for helping us communicate the reality of climate change. We are deeply moved by this manifestation of human solidarity and we likewise stand in solidarity with all countries that face and confront the adverse impact of climate change. This outpouring of support proves to us that as a human race, we can unite and we can all rise above adversity; that as a species, we care.

It was barely 11 months ago in Doha when my delegation made an appeal, an appeal to the world to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face. As then we confronted a catastrophic storm that resulted in the costliest disaster in Philippine history. Less than a year hence, we cannot imagine that a disaster much bigger would come.

With an apparent cruel twist of fate, my country is being tested by this hellstorm called Super Typhoon Haiyan. It was so strong that if there was a Category 6, it would have fallen squarely in that box. Up to this hour, we remain uncertain as to the full extent of the damage and devastation, as information trickles in in an agonizingly slow manner because power lines and communication lines have been cut off and may take a while before these are restored.

The initial assessment show that Haiyan left a wake of massive devastation that is unprecedented, unthinkable and horrific. According to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center estimated Haiyan to have attained one-minute sustained winds of 315 km/h (195 mph) and gusts up to 378 km/h (235 mph) making it the strongest typhoon in modern recorded history.

Despite the massive efforts that my country had exerted in preparing for the onslaught of this monster of a storm, it was just a force too powerful and even as a nation familiar with storms, Haiyan was nothing we have ever experienced before, or perhaps nothing that any country has every experienced before.

The picture in the aftermath is ever slowly coming into clearer focus. The devastation is colossal. And as if this is not enough, another storm is brewing again in the warm waters of the western Pacific. I shudder at the thought of another typhoon hitting the same places where people have not yet even managed to begin standing up.