Why Yeb Sano was removed from the UN climate change conference

For those who don’t know him, Yeb Sano of the Philippine Climate Change Commission gained international attention during last year’s United Nations (UN) climate change conference. Held days after typhoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) devastated the Philippines, Sano went ‘fasting’ to protest the lack of progress in the said event.

But in the on-going UN climate change talks in the country of Peru, Sano was excluded from the Philippine government’s delegation.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why.

International non-government organizations (NGOs) are saying that ‘external pressures’ led to President Benigno Aquino’s decision to drop Sano[1][2] in the same way that his successor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, ‘dropped’ another climate change negotiator back in 2009[3].

What, or more precisely ‘who’, did they mean by ‘external pressures’?

From 1850 up to 2007, more than 1/4 of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (which contributes to climate change, which in turn leads to ‘freakish’ weather events like Yolanda[4]) have come from one country alone[5]: the United States. In addition, the Kyoto Protocol[6], an international agreement on lowering CO2 emissions, was accepted by all but one country[7]: the U.S.

If ultimate blame for Yolanda is to be pinned against a single country, it will be the U.S: both for its pollution, and its refusal to reduce that pollution. If anyone stands to benefit from silencing Sano and others like him, it is the American government.

It is shameful, but not surprising, that the Aquino administration is acting in line with the interests of the U.S, instead of its supposed constituents. Activists have long accused Noynoy of being ‘subservient’ (in their own terms: Noynoy, tuta ng Kano!) to America, citing a long list of issues: the return of U.S military bases via the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), continuation of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), refusal to take action on the damaging of the Tubbataha corals by an American warship, the one-sidedness of the government on the murder of transgender Jennifer Laude by a U.S soldier, etc.

For those who are bracing for the impact of typhoon ‘Ruby’, and the rest of the Filipino people in general, it seems likely to expect any real action from the government when it comes to disasters and climate change.

[1] Yeb Saño, vocal critic of west, dropped from Lima climate talks, The Guardian, 02 Dec. 2014 http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/02/yeb-sano-vocal-critic-west-dropped-lima-climate-talks

[2] Why star Philippines negotiator isn’t at the UN climate change talks, ABS-CBNnews.com, 03 Dec. 2014 http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/global-filipino/12/03/14/why-star-philippines-negotiator-isnt-un-climate-talks

[3] Critic of west dropped before crucial Copenhagen climate summit talks, The Guardian, 04 Dec. 2014 http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2009/dec/04/copenhagen-climate-cummit-talks-critic

[4] Why was typhoon Yolanda so strong? Scientists chime in, GMA News, 13 Nov. 2013 http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/335292/scitech/science/why-was-typhoon-yolanda-so-strong-scientists-chime-in

[5] Which nations are most responsible for climate change? The Guardian, 21 April 2011 http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/apr/21/countries-responsible-climate-change

[6] Kyoto Protocol, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/items/2830.php

[7] Status of Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change http://unfccc.int/kyoto_protocol/status_of_ratification/items/2613.php

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