In December 2012, a month after Hurricane Sandy and in the wake of the deadly Typhoon Bopha, a Filipino climate negotiator broke down in tears halfway through his prepared remarks at a global climate summit in Doha, Qatar, and gave a stern warning to his fellow delegates.
"Madam chair, we have never had a typhoon like Bopha, which has wreaked havoc in a part of the country that has never seen a storm like this in half a century," Naderev Saño, the lead negotiator of the Philippines delegation at COP18, said. "And heartbreaking tragedies like this are not unique to the Philippines, because the whole world, especially developing countries struggling to address poverty and achieve social and human development, confront these same realities.
"I speak on behalf of 100 million Filipinos, a quarter of a million of whom are eking out a living here in Qatar," Saño said. "And I am making an urgent appeal, not as a negotiator, not as a leader of my delegation, but as a Filipino."
I appeal to the whole world, I appeal to the 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. I appeal to all, please, no more delays, no more excuses. Please, let Doha be remembered as the place where we found the political will to turn things around. And, let 2012 be remembered as the year the world found the courage to do so to find the will to take responsibility for the future we want. I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?
Video of Saño's tearful appeal, posted on the Guardian's website, is getting a second look this week on the heels of Typhoon Haiyan, which slammed into the Philippines, killing at least 1,000 people and causing vast devastation.
"Will Philippines negotiator's tears change our course on climate change?" John Vidal asked on the Guardian's website.
"We ignored him," Time magazine's Emily Rauhala wrote. "Can we please pay some attention now?"
Other climate change activists are asking similar questions.
"The idea that we ignore that we are in some way involved in climate change is ridiculous," actor George Clooney said on Saturday. "What's the worst thing that happens? We clean up the earth a little bit?"
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