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The Philippines climate change commissioner gave a passionate, emotional speech at the start of the 19th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP19) on Monday:
“I speak for my delegation, but I speak for the countless people who will no longer be able to speak for themselves after perishing from the storm. I speak also for those who have been orphaned by the storm. I speak for those, the people now racing against time to save survivors and alleviate the suffering of the people affected,” he said choking back tears.
His speech, three days after Typhoon Haiyan smashed into the Philippines, was followed by a standing ovation. Sano revealed that he would fast for the entire two-week conference in solidarity with his brother who has not eaten for days in the aftermath of the typhoon. He said he won’t eat until there’s concrete progress on action to tackle climate change.
The typhoon was one of the most powerful storms ever recorded and the official death toll is likely to climb rapidly once rescuers reach remote parts of the coast.
Afterward his speech, Sano said: “It’s always hard to attribute a single weather event to climate change. But we know that the science is also clear, that climate change will mean more intense typhoons, potentially. And even if we cannot attribute Haiyan to climate change directly, my country refuses to accept a future where super-typhoons become a regular fixture.”
The climate change negotiations are expected to make only modest progress in stopping global warming, but could lay the groundwork for a comprehensive agreement in two year’s time.