WARSAW (AFP) – A climate negotiator from the Philippines pledged Monday to fast at UN talks in Warsaw until progress is made towards fighting the climate change he blames for the typhoon that ravaged his country.
“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,” envoy Naderev Sano said as the 12-day talks got underway to pave the way for a new deal on curbing climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.
“This means I will refrain from eating food during this COP (conference of parties) until a meaningful outcome is in sight.”
This would mean “concrete pledges” for a Green Climate Fund meant to distribute money to the developing world for coping with climate change, and agreement on a loss and damage mechanism for global-warming effects that are too late to avoid, said Sano.
Choking back tears, he told delegates the typhoon, estimated to have caused 10,000 deaths, had hit his own home village in a country frequently battered by such storms.
“The devastation is staggering,” he said. “I struggle to find words to describe how I feel about the losses. Up to this hour I agonise, waiting for word on the fate of my very own relatives.”
Happy news: his brother had survived, said Sano.
“In the last two days he has been gathering bodies of the dead with his own two hands. He is very hungry and weary as food supplies find it hard to make it to that very hardest hit area.”
The emotional envoy urged negotiators to knuckle down and find ways of meeting the UN objective of halting global average warming at 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 deg Fahrenheit) above pre-Industrial Revolution levels.
“What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness right here in Warsaw,” said Sano.
“I speak for the countless people who will no longer be able to speak for themselves. We can take drastic action now to prevent a future where super typhoons become a way of life.”
Fellow Filipino delegate Alicia Ilaga pegged economic losses from last year’s category five Typhoon Bopha at $828 million (620 million euros).
“Now my country is just reeling from another category-five typhoon what we are counting are the dead,” she told reporters at the conference.
World nations launched a new round of talks in Warsaw Monday to pave the way for a 2015 deal to cut climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions.
The 12-day United Nations talks opened amid a slew of warnings about potentially disastrous warming with increasingly extreme weather phenomena unless humankind changes its atmosphere-polluting, fossil-fuel burning ways.