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CLIMATE CHANGE CONFERENCE

Activists join PH rep in hunger strike

By: - Reporter / @TarraINQ
/ 05:25 AM November 14, 2013

Naderev Sano, center, of the Philippines’ delegation talks to the press during the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 19 in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, Nov.12 2013. AP PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—At least 30 environment activists have joined Naderev “Yeb” Saño, the Philippine representative to the 12-day Climate Change Conference in Poland, in a hunger strike to underscore the need for more concrete action to reverse dangerous weather trends.

Environmentalists from at least five countries—India, Poland, Sri Lanka, Ukraine and the United States—said they would join Saño, who broke into tears as he related the hardships of Filipinos in his home province, Leyte, which was recently slammed by a storm of unprecedented strength. The Philippine representative appealed for an end to the deadlock on climate negotiations among 190 United Nations member-nations and announced he would go on a fast to stress the urgency of the matter.

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Friends of the Earth

As Saño entered the third day of his fast on Wednesday, Anjali Appadurai of the organization Friends of the Earth-Sri Lanka said some of her fellow activists would also fast “with no food whatsoever, just water, up to the end of the summit or until real progress is made.”

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Contacted by e-mail, Saño told the Inquirer his decision to fast was “borne out of my desire to sympathize with our Filipino brothers and sisters who are struggling to find food in the hardest hit areas of Supertyphoon ‘Yolanda’ (international name: ‘Haiyan’).”

Saño said he hopes the conference that ends on Nov. 22 will produce a stronger commitment to cut carbon dioxide emissions and other measures to address changing climate—a phenomenon of warming oceans that has spawned fiercer typhoons.

Storm Yolanda is the strongest typhoon to ever hit land in recorded history.

Symbolic fasting

“The fasting is symbolic. It is meant to send a message that we have to stop our gluttony for fossil fuels that is the primary cause of climate change. It is likewise meant as a means to galvanize global frustration over the slow progress of the climate change talks, and rally communities, organizations and individuals to pressure their governments to take drastic action,” he said.

Saño received a standing ovation at the Warsaw conference on Monday when he tearfully took other nations to task over lack of action to reverse climate change.

Saño, a native of Tacloban City, told the crowd his brother back in Leyte was a victim of Yolanda’s unprecedented wrath and was at that moment “gathering bodies of the dead with his own two hands.”

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Typhoon Yolanda and the devastation in its wake “are a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action,” Saño said.

“The expression of solidarity and support that we have been getting was overwhelming. This is also a reflection of how people care about what happened to the Philippines as a result of Supertyphoon Yolanda, an extreme climate event,” he said.

Deeply touched

“We are deeply touched and moved with the warm embrace that civil society has given us, especially those who have decided to go on fasting in solidarity with us,” he said.

“We have also been informed that thousands of young people around the world, in various universities and towns, have decided to join the fast for the duration of this climate conference in Warsaw,” he added.

As he faced a week more of fasting, Saño was “already starting to feel (his) body adjust” but remained unfazed.

“I am being checked up by a doctor every day to watch for my vital signs, and I follow a regimen that includes lots of water and magnesium salts. The idea is for me to function normally as we need to do work here in the negotiations,” he said.

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TAGS: climate change conference, fasting, hunger strike, Naderev “Yeb” Sano, Philippines, Poland, Supertyphoon Yolanda
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