A Plea from Doha

As Jonathan has noted, the international climate negotiations now underway in Doha, Qatar are receiving little media attention and are not expected to result in a major political breakthrough. And, most of the time, it’s difficult for those not in the melee to parse the speeches, interventions, and positions taken by countries at these talks, largely shrouded in a combination of diplomatese and technospeak.  Every once in a while, however, an authentic plea breaks through.  For inspiration/desperation this morning, here’s an excerpt of a speech given by a minister from the Phillipines earlier today, Naderev M. Saño, at the close of a meeting of a working group that had been charged with figuring out what to do next under the Kyoto Protocol in light of the expiration of the KP’s first commitment period this year — a task the group has failed to accomplish.  (If you haven’t been paying attention to Typhoon Bopha this week, the NYTimes calls it “Hurricane Sandy times two”.)

An important backdrop for my delegation is the profound impacts of climate change that we are already confronting. As we sit here, every single hour, even as we vacillate and procrastinate here, the death toll is rising. There is massive and widespread devastation. Hundreds of thousands of people have been rendered without homes. And the ordeal is far from over, as Typhoon Bopha has regained some strength as it approaches another populated area in the western part of the Philippines. 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. And heartbreaking tragedies like this is 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.

Finally, Madam Chair, I speak on behalf of 100 million Filipinos, a quarter of a million of whom are eking out a living working here in Qatar. 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 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 ?

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About Cara

Cara Horowitz is the co-executive director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at UCLA School of Law. The Emmett Institute was founded as the f…

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