In an impassioned speech at the 19th Conference of the Parties
(COP) of the Kyoto Protocol, the Philippines' chief negotiator,
Yeb Sano, called on the parties to take immediate, drastic action
to tackle the climate crisis.
We cannot sit and stay helpless staring at this international
climate stalemate. It is now time to take action. We need an
emergency climate pathway.
I speak for my delegation. But more than that, I speak for the
countless people who will no longer be able to speak for themselves
after perishing from the storm. I also speak for those who have
been orphaned by this tragedy. I also speak for the people now
racing against time to save survivors and alleviate the suffering
of the people affected by the disaster.
We can take drastic action now to ensure that we prevent a
future where super typhoons are a way of life. Because we refuse,
as a nation, to accept a future where super typhoons like Haiyan
become a fact of life. We refuse to accept that running away from
storms, evacuating our families, suffering the devastation and
misery, having to count our dead, become a way of life. We simply
We must stop calling events like these as natural disasters. It
is not natural when people continue to struggle to eradicate
poverty and pursue development and gets battered by the onslaught
of a monster storm now considered as the strongest storm ever to
hit land. It is not natural when science already tells us that
global warming will induce more intense storms. It is not natural
when the human species has already profoundly changed the
Disasters are never natural. They are the intersection of
factors other than physical. They are the accumulation of the
constant breach of economic, social, and environmental thresholds.
Most of the time disasters is a result of inequity and the poorest
people of the world are at greatest risk because of their
vulnerability and decades of maldevelopment, which I must assert is
connected to the kind of pursuit of economic growth that dominates
the world; the same kind of pursuit of so-called economic growth
and unsustainable consumption that has altered the climate
He concluded his speech by announcing that he would fast for the
duration of the conference, in solidarity with those in his
homeland struggling to find food, until a meaningful outcome is in
For those who ask, "Is the COP still
relevant?", Mr. Sabo offers a compelling response. His
belief that the UNFCCC process can still be the "Project
to save the planet", and his commitment to that cause, is
A transcript of Mr. Sabo's speech can be found here.
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