Today was the opening of the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19) in Warsaw, Poland. The IFMSA is here to raise awareness on climate and health and promote the 2nd Global Climate and Health Summit on the 16th of November where we will be speaking.
The day started with an official opening of the conference with presentations from the COP-president, Head of the UNFCCC and statements from different regions and countries.
The strongest and most honest speech was delivered by the Philippines climate negotiator, Yeb Sano, who called for real action in wake of the devastating typhoon and for acknowledgement of the effect climate change has on the most vulnerable countries:
“To anyone who continues to deny the reality that is climate change, I dare you to get off your ivory tower and away from the comfort of you armchair. I dare you to go to the islands of the Pacific, the islands of the Caribbean and the islands of the Indian ocean and see the impacts of rising sea levels; to the mountainous regions of the Himalayas and the Andes to see communities confronting glacial floods, to the Arctic where communities grapple with the fast dwindling polar ice caps, to the large deltas of the Mekong, the Ganges, the Amazon, and the Nile where lives and livelihoods are drowned, to the hills of Central America that confronts similar monstrous hurricanes, to the vast savannas of Africa where climate change has likewise become a matter of life and death as food and water becomes scarce. Not to forget the massive hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico and the eastern seaboard of North America. And if that is not enough, you may want to pay a visit to the Philippines right now.”
He also called for immediate actions and pledged that he would go on a hunger strike in solidarity with his countrymen until real commitments are made.
The speech was bold and truthful. It ended with a criticism of the unambitious outcome of previous COP meetings, which could have had so much more potential:
“This process under the UNFCCC has been called many names. It has been called a farce. It has been called an annual carbon-intensive gathering of useless frequent flyers. It has been called many names. But it has also been called the Project to save the planet. It has been called “saving tomorrow today”. We can fix this. We can stop this madness. Right now. Right here, in the middle of this football field. I call on you to lead us. And let Poland be forever known as the place we truly cared to stop this madness. Can humanity rise to the occasion? I still believe we can.”
The speech was very inspirational and hopefully this will be a wake-up call, which should give rise to a productive COP19 with positive outcomes.
Anna Rasmussen and the rest of the IFMSA-delegation