Filipino climate commissioner at Arctic sea ice edge to appeal for global climate action

Press release - September 11, 2014
Longyearbyen, Norway — As the Arctic sea ice reaches its lowest extent of the year, Filipino climate commissioner Naderev “Yeb” Saño is at the ice edge with Greenpeace to demand that world leaders take action on climate change at the upcoming summit in New York.

“I was born over 8500 kilometers from the North Pole, and yet I have come to realize that my future, and the future of my country, is tied to the fate of the melting Arctic,” said Saño, speaking from the ice edge north of Svalbard. “The science is clear that climate change could mean more frequent and more intense extreme weather. It is countries like the Philippines that feel the immediate effects of climate change. I appeal to the world´s leaders at the climate summit in New York to take actions to protect the Arctic, and cut fossil fuel emissions that are driving climate change,” said Yeb Saño.

Yeb Saño is a climate change commissioner and negotiator for the Philippines at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Saño caught global attention after an emotional speech at the UN's climate meeting in Warsaw in November 2013, during typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.[1] Overnight, he became a voice for climate-impacted nations on the urgent need to address climate change.

“What I am seeing here in the Arctic is something that is in danger of being lost forever. It is quite clear that burning fossil fuels is the chief cause of climate change, and the Arctic is at the very center of this man-made crisis. If the world wishes to avert the most catastrophic impacts of climate change, we must rapidly transition to a clean energy future, and abandon crazy projects like oil drilling in the Arctic,” said Yeb Saño.

The seven summers with the lowest minimum sea ice extents have all occurred in the last seven years. Current ice conditions suggest that this year is highly unlikely to match the record low level of sea ice extent we saw in the Arctic in 2012. However, the level is likely to be considerably below the long term average, and is consistent with a dramatic collapse in ice extent that has been witnessed in recent years. The sea ice is expected to reach its yearly minimum in the coming weeks.

Yeb Saño has signed the Arctic Declaration[2], a ten point charter for Arctic protection to tackle climate change and to establish an Arctic Sanctuary on top of the world. He is also seeking climate justice on behalf of climate-impacted nations like the Philippines, which had been devastated by super typhoons Bopha and Haiyan. He began his Arctic tour with the Greenpeace ship Esperanza from Longyearbyen, the major port on Svalbard, Norway, situated at 78 degrees north latitude. Yeb Saño is onboard until September 12. 

Pictures and clip reel video of Yeb Saño at the edge of the sea ice near Svalbard is available in this collection. Video includes soundbites. Register to download.

For more information and to request interviews with Yeb Saño, please contact:

Therese Salvador, Philippine Media Campaigner, Email: ; Mobile: +63917-8228734

Juha Aromaa, Communications Officer; Mobile: +358 50 369 6202

Daniel Bengtsson, Communications Officer on the Esperanza; Mobile: +46 703009510

Notes:

[1] Yeb Saño’s powerful speech at the UN can be viewed here

[2]  In the past two months, more than 900 influential people have signed on to the International Declaration on the Future of the Arctic (Arctic Declaration), including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, actor Emma Thompson, and former and current environment ministers in the Arctic countries. The full list can be found here. In the coming weeks, delegations lead by Greenpeace will present the demands in the declaration along with the list of signatories to Arctic States embassies all over the world.

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