Not a year ago, in the wake of Typhoon Bopha, the Philippines’ lead climate negotiator, Naderev Saño, delivered a tearful plea to diplomats assembled in Doha:
Madam chair, we have never had a typhoon like Bopha, which has wreaked havoc in a part of the country that has never seen a storm like this in half a century. And heartbreaking tragedies like this are not unique to the Philippines, because the whole world, especially developing countries struggling to address poverty and achieve social and human development, confront these same realities.
Madam chair, I speak on behalf of 100 million Filipinos, a quarter of a million of whom are eking out a living working here in Qatar [as migrant laborers]. And I am making an urgent appeal, not as a negotiator, not as a leader of my delegation, but as a Filipino.
He continued, in tears:
I appeal to the whole world, I appeal to leaders from all over the world, to open our eyes to the stark reality that we face. I appeal to ministers. The outcome of our work is not about what our political masters want. It is about what is demanded of us by 7 billion people.
I appeal to all, please, no more delays, no more excuses. Please, let Doha be remembered as the place where we found the political will to turn things around. Please, let 2012 be remembered as the year the world found the courage to find the will to take responsibility for the future we want. I ask of all of us here, if not us, then who? If not now, then when? If not here, then where?
As the video made the rounds online, the Guardian wondered, if Saño’s tears could “change our course on climate change.” It’s a question that lingered unanswered — and feels more urgent now than ever.