More delegates on hunger strike at UN climate talks

Posted at 11/14/13 9:06 AM

WARSAW, Poland—After Philippine climate negotiator Naderev "Yeb" Saño's tearful speech at the opening session of the UN climate conference here, delegates from different countries have joined him in fasting.

A database obtained by ABS-CBN News shows at least 60 people from one umbrella organization alone, the Climate Action Network, signing up to go on a hunger strike.

Adam Greenberg, a climate change activist from the US, said more delegates from other groups have begun fasting until significant progress is made at the talks to address climate change

Greenberg said many were moved by Saño's speech, in which he described the scale of Typhoon Haiyan's devastation in the Philippines and urged the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to take stronger steps against global warming.

He also announced that he will fast until he sees stronger action against climate change at the talks, in solidarity with the typhoon-ravaged Filipinos.

"It's not about our groups. It's about our solidarity with Yeb, solidarity with the Philippines and the people of the Philippines," said Greenberg.

Collin Reese, another delegate from the US, is currently fasting. He said it’s his way of calling attention to the plight of countries most vulnerable to disasters, which advocates like him largely blame on climate change.

"For too long there’s been inaction, and this is something we think can bring attention to the true suffering of the victims of climate change," he said.

'High spirits'

For three days now, Saño has been consuming nothing but water despite days full of meetings and other activities at the 19th Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC.

Journalists and delegates from various countries would also often approach him, asking for quick interviews and commending him for his speech, making his day busier.

But he said he's "in high spirits."

"I feel stronger than three days ago," he added. "This is nothing compared to what our countrymen are going through."

He also said he no longer craves food, but avoids the smell of it and does not go inside the Warsaw national stadium's food court as much as possible.


Saño said he continues to hope that something good would come out of his refusal to eat anything during the conference.

In particular, he wants developed countries, especially the worst polluters, to commit to putting money into the green climate fund, which aims to help developing countries cope with climate change.

He is also pushing for a mechanism for rich countries to pay for the losses and damage suffered by disaster-prone poor countries.

But what if these fall on deaf ears?

"We won’t go home with nothing," Saño said. "This conference won't come to a close without us resolving issues, especially when we talk about rich countries' ambitions to address climate change."

In any case, he said he is prepared to fast until the end of the summit—that is, after eight more days.