Filipino activist goes to North Pole

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Manila: A Filipino environment activist trekked to the North Pole, signed the Arctic Declaration, and vowed to fight for the implementation of the declaration’s 10 demands.

The document calls on all nations to stop their dependence on fossil fuel, which contributes to the rapid melting of ice in the Arctic region; and to support the creation of Arctic Sanctuary, a spot called the world’s head.

“I was born over 8,500 kilometres from the North Pole. I have come to realise that my future, and the future of my country, is tied to the fate of the melting Arctic,” Naderev Saño said in a statement released by Greenpeace to reporters in Manila.

“It is quite clear that burning fossil fuels is the chief cause of climate change, and the Arctic is at the very centre of this man-made crisis in the North Pole),” Saño said while aboard Esperanza, a Greenpeace ship, as it docked at Longyearbyen, a major port on Svalbard, Norway where the North Pole’s precarious ice edge could be seen.

Saño is the Philippine government’s climate change commissioner and negotiator for the Philippines at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“I appeal to the world’s leaders at the (forthcoming) climate summit in New York (on September 23) to take actions to protect the Arctic and cut fossil fuel emissions that are driving climate change,” Saño said, adding, “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.”

“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,” Saño said, adding he would remain aboard the ship until September 12.

Reporting on the state of the North Pole, Saño said it has had minimum sea ice level for the last seven years, its record lowest was in 2012.

“This year’s sea ice level, though not as bad as in 2012, is consistent with a dramatic collapse in ice extent witnessed in recent years,” Saño observed.

Last November 2013, while attending the UN’s climate meeting in Warsaw, Saño gave a heart-rending speech after Typhoon Haiyan, a four-grade storm killed almost 7,000 displaced 15 million and left 6,000 jobless in central Philippines.

In the public spotlight since then, Saño intensified his call on nations to address climate change.

Being at the North Pole was one way of dramatising his commitment to efforts to raise a worldwide awareness to end climate change.

The Philippines is hit by 20 deadly typhoons every year. It is also part of Asia Pacific’s “Ring of Fire” where volcanic eruption and earthquakes always occur.

Philippine government agencies are always measured by the way they respond to disasters that commonly occur every year.