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"Stop This Madness": Filipino Climate Chief Begins Hunger Fast to Protest Global Inaction

Climate negotiator from the Philippines gave an emotional appeal to the world to address the climate crisis following Typhoon Haiyan.

Photo Credit: Democracy Now!


On the opening day of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Poland, the chief climate negotiator from the Philippines gave an emotional appeal to the world to address the climate crisis following Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever recorded. Estimates say the storm has killed at least 10,000 people. "In solidarity with my countrymen who are now struggling for food back home, and with my brother who has not had food for the last three days ... I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate," said Yeb Saño. A year ago, Saño gave another speech to the U.N. climate summit in Doha following the devastating Typhoon Bopha that killed some 1,100. "In Doha, we asked: 'If not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?' But here in Warsaw, we may very well ask these same forthright questions," Saño said yesterday. "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."



This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: The United Nations launched an appeal for $300 million to help the people of the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms ever recorded in history. Filipino officials now fear over 10,000 people may have died in the city of Tacloban alone. The city of 220,000 was devastated when the sea level rose 13 feet. Surrvivors describe seeing a tsunami-like wall of seawater. Local residents say they’ve lost everything.

TACLOBAN RESIDENT: We’re still surviving, even though it’s pretty hard in here. Everything is gone—our houses, everything. There’s nothing to eat. There’s nothing to drink. No hot—yeah, everything. Yes, because there’s nothing here. We need to go somewhere where we can eat, where we can stay, where we can have some shelter, yeah.

AMY GOODMAN: Rotting bodies now lay uncollected along the roads in Tacloban. Alfred Romualdez is the city mayor.

MAYOR ALFRED ROMUALDEZ: [translated] We’re having difficulties finding the corpses, because you can’t easily see them since they’re all under debris. If there’s a bad smell emanating, that’s the only way we can find the corpses.

AMY GOODMAN: The United Nations Climate Change Conference began Monday in the Polish capital of Warsaw. For the second year in a row, the conference coincided with a massive typhoon hitting the Philippines. Last year, Yeb Saño, then a member of the Filipino delegation, made international headlines when he addressed the summit after Typhoon Bopha killed over 1,100 people.

NADEREV "YEB" SAÑO: The outcome of our work is not about what our political masters want. It is about what is demanded of us by seven billion people. I appeal to all: Please, no more delays, no more excuses. Please, let Doha be remembered as the place where we found the political will to turn things around, and let 2012 be remembered as the year the world found the courage to do so, to find the courage to take responsibility for the future we want.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Yeb Saño speaking last year at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Doha. Well, on Monday in Warsaw, Saño gave another moving address during the opening of the climate talks. He’s now head of the Filipino climate change delegation.

NADEREV "YEB" SAÑO: Mr. President, 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 realities 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 Supertyphoon Haiyan. It was so strong that if there was a Category 6, it would have fallen squarely in that box. And up to this hour, Mr. President, we remain uncertain as to the full extent of the damage and devastation, as information trickles in agonizingly slow manner because power lines and communication lines have been cut off and may take a while before they are restored.

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