Today, while tens of thousands gathered in central Copenhagen to march to the Bella Centre, Ian Fry, the negotiator for Tuvalu, was making an impassioned speech for the survival of his country.

He had been valiantly struggling to get negotiators to agree to consider a legally binding outcome from Copenhagen but was unable to get enough support. And if you’re wondering – no – New Zealand did not lift a finger to support Tuvalu.

I haven’t got a transcript, but one of my Greenpeace colleagues takes remarkably good notes.  So, give or take a word, this is what the Tuvalu delegate said after being told by the Chair of the Conference of Parties (and Danish Environment Minister) Connie Hedegaard, that the progress he desperately needed wasn’t going to happen:

Tuvalu: Some media reporting has suggested that Tuvalu might wish to embarrass the Danish presidency. That is not our intention. We want to make perfectly clear that this agenda item is important for us. We know you Madam Chair have been working hard. You have been travelling around the world trying to find common understanding. If you had made it all the way to Tuvalu, you would have realized why this issue is so important for us.

We are not naïve to the political situation. It appears that we are waiting for some senators in the US congress to solve issues here. We know that Obama went to Norway to receive a peace prize. For him to honour this prize, he should address the greatest threat to humanity and climate change; concluding this meeting with two legally binding agreements. The Alliance of Small Island States and millions of other people around world are affected.

I’ve received a lot of phone calls around the world expressing support. I have refused to take media interviews. This is not an ego trip for me. I’m just a humble servant of the environmental department of the Tuvalu government. I don’t want to cause embarrassment for you Madame Chair. We’ve had this proposal on the table for 6 months. It’s not something we came up with only now.  I woke up this morning crying. It’s not an easy issue to admit for a grown up man. This is about the fate of my country (says this in tears).

I have met Ian Fry a few times at these negotiations at these negotiations.  He is a very humble man with the weight of an extraordinary responsibility on his shoulders.At these negotiations we all try very hard to stay calm and analytical because it’s needed to deal strategically and effectively with the issues and politics at stake.  But it’s hard to do this when the issues are so serious.  Today the Tuvalu negotiator cried as he struggled for the survival of his homeland. Many could not help but cry in response.