At the COP18 climate talks, the Filipino delegate broke down as he appealed to the world: 'no more delays, no more excuses'
The Guardian, 6/12/2012
Philippines negotiator makes emotional plea at Doha climate talks Link to this video
When a senior diplomat at global talks breaks down in public, it is a signal that other countries must pay attention. It happens rarely, but it can have a dramatic effect.
On Thursday, it happened in a full plenary session of the COP18 climate talks at Doha.
Naderev Saño, the lead negotiator of the Philippines delegation, got halfway through his prepared statement and then stopped (video).
He wanted to relate the tortured negotiations to the tragedy unfolding in his own country when typhoon Bopha slammed into the island of Mindanao, killing hundreds of people and making thousands homeless. It was, he said, like hurricane Sandy which hit New York, Haiti and Cuba last month, a clear sign of climate change. No typhoon had ever come so far south, it was more intense than ever and one had not hit this region in many decades. Saño told the plenary session:
At this point he broke down.
"I appeal to the whole world, I appeal to leaders from all over the world, to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face. I appeal to ministers. The outcome of our work is not about what our political masters want. It is about what is demanded of us by 7 billion people.
The hall rose and applauded.
Later I spoke to Saño, or "Yeb" as he is widely known. He said: "This was the 16th typhoon this year. It was particularly intense and uncharacteristic, struck the province of Davao Oriental. I know the area well. I have been there many times. Quite a few of our delegation have their families there.
"Each destructive typhoon season costs us 2% of our GDP, and the reconstruction costs a further 2%, which means we lose nearly 5% of our economy every year to storms. We have received no climate finance to adapt or to prepare ourselves for typhoons and other extreme weather we are now experiencing.
"We have not seen any money from the rich countries to help us to adapt. So more and more people die every year. I feel very frustrated. I was very emotional because it tears your heart out when you know your people are feeling the impact. We cannot go on like this. It cannot be a way of life that we end up running always from storms.
"You feel frustrated when the UN process does not work. We always go to the brink in the negotiations. That is a bad sign. Climate change negotiations cannot be based on the way we currently measure progress. It is a clear sign of planetary and economic and environmental dysfunction."