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In Doha, Philippines Negotiator Delivers Emotional Plea For Climate Change Action

This kind of thing rarely happens. But today during the United Nation's COP 18 climate change conference in Doha, the lead negotiator for the Philippines broke down.

He delivered an emotional plea for action on the issue of climate change that was made even more dramatic because his country is just now starting to pick up the pieces from a typhoon that has killed hundreds.

"As we sit here in these negotiations, even as we vacillate and procrastinate here, the death toll is rising," Naderev Saño said. "There is massive and widespread devastation."

According to The Guardian's transcription, he went on to explain that a typhoon like Bopha is rare in that part of the country. He explained that tragedies like these are not unique to his country. Then his voice cracked and he was on the verge of tears.

He closed:

"I appeal to the whole world, I appeal to 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. Please, let 2012 be remembered as the year the world found the courage 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?"

Morning Edition's Renee Montagne spoke to World Bank president Jim Yong Kim for Friday's show.

During the interview Kim made similar points to Saño. He said that action is necessary especially because there is now an "overwhelming consensus over the science of climate change."

What's more he said, scientists believe there will likely be a 4 degrees Celsius increase in temperature by the end of the century. What that means, he said, is that once-in-a-generation events like SuperStorm Sandy or the heatwave that overtook Russia will become more common.

Kim was on the show to talk about a newly released report put out by the World Bank that they hope will "shock us into action." Kim said the report paints a picture of just how dramatically different our world could become if we don't curb this trend.

In the foreword of the report, Kim writes, "This report is a stark reminder that climate change affects everything."

For more of Renee and Kim's conversation tune into Friday's Morning Edition. We'll post the as-aired version of the interview on this post Friday morning.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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