Philip­pine cli­mate ac­tivist launches global pil­grim­age


Af­ter a high-pro­file stint as the Philip­pines’ top cli­mate en­voy, de­mand­ing world pow­ers do more to fight global warm­ing, Yeb Sano is em­bark­ing on an epic pil­grim­age to force change.

Sano will this week­end begin a global odyssey to places vul­ner­a­ble to cli­mate change, start­ing with the cy­clone-dev­as­tated Pa­cific is­land na­tion of Van­u­atu and Australia’s Great Bar­rier Reef.

He is lead­ing a “Peo­ple’s Pil­grim­age,” cul­mi­nat­ing in a 60-day trek to Paris for a United Na­tions sum­mit in De­cem­ber when world lead­ers will at­tempt to forge a new treaty aimed at lim­it­ing global warm­ing and pre­vent­ing its cat­a­strophic con­se­quences.

Backed by in­ter­faith and en­vi­ron­ment groups world­wide, Sano is hop­ing the grass­roots move­ment will see thou­sands of peo­ple join him for the fi­nal stage of his walk into Paris in a show of moral force.

“We are go­ing to send a pow­er­ful, loud mes­sage to world lead­ers that we are many, and we care about the gov­ern­ments and in­dus­tries of the world find­ing a so­lu­tion to the cli­mate cri­sis,” Sano told AFP this week as he pre­pared to de­part his home city of Manila for the pil­grim­age.

“What we want is a just, eq­ui­table, am­bi­tious and durable cli­mate agree­ment to be forged in Paris.”

‘Cli­mate mad­ness’

Sano, qui­etly spo­ken but charis­matic, emerged as a star for many in the global en­vi­ron­ment move­ment with a spec­tac­u­lar dis­play of diplo­macy at the 2013 edi­tion of the an­nual U.N. cli­mate sum­mit.

As lead ne­go­tia­tor for the Philip­pines, and with Su­per Ty­phoon Haiyan hav­ing just killed thou­sands of his coun­try­men, Sano made a tear­ful de­mand for world lead­ers to take fast and firm ac­tion against global warm­ing.

“What my coun­try is go­ing through as a re­sult of this ex­treme cli­mate event is mad­ness. The cli­mate cri­sis is mad­ness,” Sano told his fel­low del­e­gates gath­ered in the Pol­ish cap­i­tal.

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