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Philippines Climate Negotiator Makes Emotional Plea At COP19, Vows Hunger Strike

HuffingtonPost–As the Philippines reeled in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan on Monday, a climate negotiator from the island nation made an emotional statement at the UN climate talks in Warsaw that was met with a standing ovation.

In an address to the convention captured on YouTubeNaderev “Yeb” Saño said that the suffering of people in the Philippines should motivate the delegates to make this year’s climate talks count.

“The devastation is staggering. I struggle to find words even for the images that we see in the news coverage, and I struggle to find words to describe how I feel about the losses. Up to this hour, I agonize waiting for word for the fate of my very own relatives,” Saño said, voice breaking as he began to tear up.

“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 the people now racing against time to save survivors and alleviate the suffering of the people affected. We can take drastic action now to ensure that we prevent a future where super typhoons become a way of life.”

Saño also pledged that he would refrain from eating at the convention until “a meaningful outcome is in sight.”

“We can fix this,” Saño said in closing. “We can stop this madness.” The room erupted into applause as he wiped his tears from his face.

Saño also made a heartfelt appeal to the climate convention at Doha last year, right after the Philippines had been hit by Typhoon Bopha. “It is not about what our political masters want, it is about what is demanded of us by 7 million people,” he said at that time. “Please, no more delays, no more excuses.”

Meteorologists have pointed out that human factors, like weak infrastructure, high population density and poverty, contributed greatly to the level of devastation Haiyan brought on the Philippines.

Still, scientific research suggests that global warming is contributing to the increased intensity of storms and to sea level rise, which can worsen storms’ impact.

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