‘Fasting for the Climate’ grows following emotional beginning to climate talks


Fasting for the climate is becoming a growing movement after the Philippines’ chief climate negotiator, Yeb Sano, stopped eating during the COP19 climate talks in Warsaw, Poland. Civil society, led by youth and faith groups, joined in a voluntary fast in solidarity with Sano and all those affected by Typhoon Haiyan. Sano’s speech at the opening of the talks brought many to tears. After Sano proclaimed, “I dare you to get off your ivory tower” and act on climate change, he garnered support from those at the negotiations in Poland. Now, as news of Sano’s symbolic fast spreads across the globe, more and more individuals are expressing their support for Sano’s plea for action on climate.


RT @TckTckTck COP19 intensifies as civil society joins Philippines in #FastingForTheClimate /bit.ly/19hHaWh


Key Points

  • Yeb Sano’s speech at the opening of the COP19 climate meetings is getting worldwide traction. Media coverage of Sano’s speech and fast is appearing in all continents. The hashtag #FastingForTheClimate continues to gain traction.

  • Youth and faith groups are joining the Fasting for the Climate movement in solidarity with Sano and the people of the Philippines. As of Tuesday night, a growing number of activists, environmentalists and members of civil society inside and outside of Poland have joined Sano in an effort to demand that the negotiators make real progress in addressing climate change.

  • The devastating typhoon in the Philippines, combined with a recent barrage of evidence linking rising emissions to costly destruction, should make the case for taking action on climate change crystal clear to the negotiators in Poland. Sea surface temperatures that were 2ºC above normal in the south Pacific region strengthen typhoons by increasing the available energy and water vapor in the area. This reality, combined with overwhelming evidence from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change saying climate change is real and dangerous if unaddressed, should be motivation enough for the negotiators in Poland to take meaningful action for addressing climate change.


Tensions inside the UN climate talks escilated during the second day of negotiations, as civil society – led by youth groups – joined in a voluntary fast in solidarity of Filipino delegate Yeb Sano, and all those effected by Typhoon Haiyan. The group of around 30 campaigners joined Yeb Sano, in the conference cafeteria at lunchtime to tell people that they would take part in a voluntary fast “until a meaningful outcome is in sight.”

Relief efforts continue to attempt to reach the Philippines as death toll estimates in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan remain around 10,000. With winds of 315km/h, gusts up to 380km/h and a storm surge estimated at 2.1m (10 feet) in some areas, Haiyan has already been dubbed the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in world history. The previous record holder to hit the Philippines, Thelma,killed around 5,100 people in 1991. Haiyan’s death toll is already expected to hit 10,000 in the hardest-hit Tacloban alone. 9.5 million people have been affected. Described as “tropical cyclone perfection” and “off the charts”, the links between climate change and super storms like Haiyan are once again being questioned in the wake of the disaster. Although the overall number of hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons hasn’t increased, the proportion of more intense storms has, as their strength is linked to sea temperature. As the oceans warm with climate change, there is extra energy in the system. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for one, says that intensification of Super Typhoon Haiyan was “fueled by “ideal” environmental conditions– namely low wind shear and warm ocean temperatures”. Most deaths in the Philippines are expected to be from the storm surge, which locals have described as being “as high as a coconut tree” and “like a tsunami”. Rising sea levels coupled with greater storm intensities increase the probability that future storm surges will be worse. Strong storms may be a regular occurrence in the Philippines, but the magnitude and impact of Haiyan is unprecedented. Its total economic impact may reach $14 billion, about $2 billion of which will be insured, according to a report by Bloomberg analyst Jonathan Adams. While no individual weather event can be said to be a direct result of climate change, as the world meets in Warsaw for the latest round of climate negotiations the increases in storm severity across the board, including Australian bushfires, US Superstorm Sandy, and now Super Typhoon Haiyan, cannot be ignored. Climate change impacts all, but it hits poor countries the hardest. Oxfam is calling on governments to urgently cut emissions and for developed countries to provide finance to help poor countries cope with the impacts of climate change. It says that in Warsaw all developed countries must say what money they are going to provide in the short term and agree a roadmap for delivering the $100bn a year promised by 2020.




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  • By fasting in solidarity with Yeb, we hope to make that crucial link between real climate devastation on the ground and the political inaction happening here at the UN. Graham Reeder, Taking it Global

  • Typhoon [Haiyan] is the strongest recorded typhoon to make landfall throughout history. It is another, extremely painful reminder of the urgency of fighting climate change and preventing it from reaching even more catastrophic levels. It requires real, sustained, and above all, ambitious action. Lidy Nacpil, from Jubilee South Asia Pacific

  • To anyone who continues to deny the reality that is climate change, I dare you to get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of you 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 level…if that is not enough, you may want to pay a visit to the Philippines right now. – Yeb Sano

  • Even while extreme weather events like Haiyan are intensifying, developed country governments continue to actively deny the clear need for finance, reparations and support for those most impacted by climate change. Marco Cadena, PUSH Europe

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