Sano connected Typhoon Haiyan to climate change and the fossil fuel
industry’s role in fuelling the crisis. He spoke of the terrifying
devastation that Typhoon Haiyan wrecked upon the Philippines, before
connecting the dots directly to the climate crisis.
the view of a class of scientists who deny connection of global warming
with any single weather event, Sano gave a call to those “who continue
to deny the reality that is climate change” saying, “I dare you to get
off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of you armchair.” He
further said, “I dare you to go to the islands of the Pacific, the
islands of the Caribbean and the islands of the Indian ocean and see the
impacts of rising sea levels; to the mountainous regions of the
Himalayas and the Andes to see communities confronting glacial floods,
to the Arctic where communities grapple with the fast dwindling polar
ice caps, to the large deltas of the Mekong, the Ganges, the Amazon, and
the Nile where lives and livelihoods are drowned, to the hills of
Central America that confronts similar monstrous hurricanes, to the vast
savannas of Africa where climate change has likewise become a matter of
life and death as food and water becomes scarce. Not to forget the
massive hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern seaboard of
North America. And if that is not enough, you may want to pay a visit to
the Philippines right now.”
“In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find 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. This means I will
voluntarily refrain from eating food during this COP until a meaningful
outcome is in sight,” said Sano in his address at COP 19.
After Sandy, which hit the US east coasts in November 2012, Haiyan once
again initiated the debate over climate change connection behind
such disastrous storms. But Sano’s emotional address and description of
the plight of people in post-Haiyan Philippines couldn’t hold the
emotion longer in the summit as the politics of the conference took over
with the Polish hosts came under attack from green groups because of the
Government's support to the coal industry, opening of new lignite mines
and power stations.
Julia Michalak, a Pole from the Climate Action Network, said that the
Polish Prime Minister was in the hands of the state-owned coal company.
“He had lowered expectations from the conference and blocked European
Union progress on emission targets. Poland simply did not deserve to
host such a prestigious event,” she said adding that “He has declared
that coal will be at the heart of the energy sector for the next decades
and he is mainly responsible for people in the here and now, and not for
future generations. So he does not care about my future or that of my
children, he is looking for current electoral success.”
In reply Beata Jaczewska, head of the Polish delegation, said Poland
could not phase out coal straight away. It was building new coal
stations to replace old, inefficient ones and so saving emissions. The
Polish Government was working towards an international agreement that
covered all nations, so that the global temperature increase did not
exceed 2°C above pre-industrial levels.
Choosing a middle path between the horrifying impacts of disasters and
the energy needs forcing many countries to go for coal fired power
plants, Christina Figueres, the executive secretary of the UN Climate
Change Convention, said negotiations needed to concentrate on developing
existing funds and methods of delivering them so that developing
countries could adapt to climate change.
Much was being done to combat climate change, but it was not enough.
“Efforts have to be faster, higher and stronger if we are to avoid the
2°C limit we have already agreed”, she added.
As the demand for phasing out coal came into fore, hope for a strong
outcome to deal with the climate crisis started dimming. Because it’s
not only Poland but many other countries like India have extensive plans
to exploit the coal reserves and produce coal fired energy. India has
planned for many mega and ultra mega power plants based on coal.
It indicates that the emotional appeal of Sano may not have enough
impact on the countries that are dependent on coal for their energy
So, what can be expected from COP 19?
[Based on inputs from
Climate News Network]