The man who cried for the climate in 2013 today leads Greenpeace at COP27

The man who cried for the climate in 2013 today leads Greenpeace at COP27

SHARM EL-SHEIKH. In 2013, at COP19 in Warsaw, a very young executive of the Philippine delegation spoke at the meeting and moved the hundreds of diplomats around him: a typhoon had just hit his native village and he had no more news of his family. Today Yeb Sano leads the delegation of Greenpeace International at the Cop27 in Sharm El-Sheikh.

“Unfortunately, not much has changed since that November nine years ago,” says Yeb Saño. “Even then we were talking about Loss and damage. And we’re still here doing it. Of course, we have better understood the brutal impacts that climate change has, now we see it on all continents. But what has changed in the negotiations? They continue to be very slow, a battlefield between distant positions, where the usual ones who blocked progress then continue to do so today: the United States, the European Union, Australia, the United Kingdom”.

How will COP27 end?

“For what we see now there is a serious risk of failure. On some issues the political differences are very profound. In particular, precisely, on the financial instruments for the Loss and damagewhich is the heart of this Cop”.

What are the three objectives that Cop27 must achieve for it to be a success, according to Greenpeace?
“The first is precisely the establishment of a fund for the Loss and damage. Rich countries see it as a technical issue, but for developing countries it would be a show of solidarity.”

But if the rich fail to keep their promise of 100 billion a year from 2020 to 2025, how do you think they can make financial commitments for ”Loss and damage”?
“Because we are talking about people, human lives lost, crops destroyed, ecosystems disappearing, extreme weather events… In this case the argument is moral. Cop27 will still have to sanction the creation of a fund, then negotiations will continue on how to find the money to put in. You can also think of other ways to recover the money, for example by taxing the fossil fuel companies, or using crowdfunding: anyone who cares about the fate of other human beings could put his money in this fund. But until the fund is there, none of this will be possible.”

The other goals?

“We need a clear result that increases the money for adaptation: it must be doubled as established at the COP26 in Glasgow. Finally, the gradual ‘exit’ from fossil fuels must be ratified, and not the gradual ‘reduction’ mentioned in these hours”.

But is the goal of 1.5 degrees as a threshold for rising temperatures still alive?
“Every day we wake up we have to believe that 1.5 degrees is alive. We have every reason to fight for this to happen: going any further would mean producing catastrophic climate change.”

Greenpeace sharply criticized the presence of hundreds of fossil industry lobbyists at Cop27. Vice-President of the EU Commission Frans Timmermans has instead said that it is better to have them here in the light of the sun, rather than working in the shade.
“I could also agree with Timmermans, if the gas and oil giants were here to listen to the victims of the problems they have created. The truth is, however, that they are here to steer the negotiations with their huge resources and take away space to civil society”.

The final statement of the G20 in Bali has been interpreted as the green light for an agreement here in Sharm. What do you think?
“The signal coming from Bali is actually very weak. We hoped that the leaders meeting in Indonesia would take more ambitious decisions on finance, on mitigation, on adaptation. But we have not seen any of this. Of course, the final statement could also have been worst, at least they confirmed 1.5 degrees and mentioned fossil fuels, but that’s not enough to push COP27 towards success, especially on the Loss and damage and on the abandonment of coal, gas and oil”.

From 2013 to today, climate policy has not changed. And his life?
“I’ve been at Greenpeace for seven years: working on the ground, with our organization’s operations in Southeast Asia, fighting deforestation, fighting for a clean energy transition. Even if we don’t win our fight here in the plenary meeting room in Sharm El- Sheikh, we will continue to fight on the ground alongside the people.”

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