Written By: Emma Websdale
At this week’s UN climate summit in Warsaw, Poland, Yeb Saño, Climate Change Commissioner of the Philippines, made an emotional plea for climate action after Typhoon Haiyan ripped across the Philippines on Friday, causing more than 10,000 deaths.
Connecting the devastating super-typhoon with climate change, Yeb Saño urged governments meeting this week in Poland to take emergency climate action.
Speaking to delegates from 190 countries, Saño said, “Typhoons such as [Haiyan] and its impacts represent a sobering reminder to the international community that we cannot afford to procrastinate on climate action. Warsaw must deliver on enhancing ambition and should muster the political will to address climate change.”
Saño challenged anyone who doubts human-induced climate change to visit those countries affected by climate impacts, including his own: “To anyone who continues to deny the reality that is climate change, I dare you to [leave] your ivory tower and [get] away from the comfort of your armchair. 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…”
Saño added, “And if that is not enough, [you] may want to pay a visit to the Philippines right now.”
Encouraging people to wake up to the truth behind extreme weather events, Saño insisted that we “must stop calling events [such as] these natural disasters.”
“It is not natural [to be] battered by the onslaught of a monster storm now considered [to be] the strongest storm ever to hit land.”
He added, “It is not natural when science … tells us that global warming will induce more intense storms. It is not natural when the human species has already profoundly changed the climate.
“[These] disasters are never natural. They are the intersection of factors other than physical. They are the accumulation of the constant breach of economic, social, and environmental thresholds.”
In closing, Saño urged Poland to become the place for tackling climate change. He asked delegates, “Can humanity rise to the occasion?” before answering his own question: “I still believe we can.”