PH negotiator prevented from attending Lima climate talks?

Pia Ranada

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PH negotiator prevented from attending Lima climate talks?
Commissioner Naderev Saño is not part of the crucial UN conference in Peru

MANILA, Philippines – Is Climate Change Commissioner Naderev “Yeb” Saño being prevented from attending the Lima climate change conference for political reasons?

Tweets from environmental activists hours before the start of the United Nations Conference of Parties on December 1, demanded to know where Saño was.  

Some tweets with the hashtag #YebInLima indicated that he was barred from traveling to Lima by the Philippine government. 

A source close to the climate change movement told Rappler that Saño was not allowed to attend the important conference because higher ranking officials have not been pleased by his performance. 

Some officials said that President Benigno Aquino III himself does not want Saño present in the talks because of his reported antagonistic stance towards foreign delegations.

Plans for the Commission’s participation in important conferences such as Lima are usually discussed and finalized by the Commission en banc, with all 3 commissioners privy to the arrangements.

But this time around, Saño was apparently left out of the plans.

Allegedly, his name had not been in a list of delegates to be given a Travel Authority to represent the country in Lima. The Travel Authority is a document required for official travel of government personnel.

The official with the administrative power to sign such a document is Commissioner Lucille Sering, who unlike Saño and Commissioner Heherson Alvarez, holds a cabinet rank.

Divisions within the Commission are an open secret in the local climate change movement. Disagreements between Saño and Sering first surfaced in the previous Conference of Parties in Warsaw when she had allegedly chastised him for crying during his speech at the gathering’s opening ceremony.

As of writing, Sering has not replied to Rappler’s queries. Saño also chose not to give a comment.

There may still be a chance for Saño to catch up with the conference since high-level talks begin in the second week of the 12-day gathering.

For this to happen, permission to travel will have to come from President Aquino, the chairman of the Commission. 

Fasting, protests

Saño has been tagged by international media and climate justice advocates as an iconic voice in climate change negotiations representing the interests of developing countries that stand to lose the most from impacts of climate change. 

He landed in headlines after breaking down during emotional speeches made in two of the last Conferences of Parties held in Warsaw and Doha earning him the nickname, the “crying commissioner.”

More recently, he completed a 40-day Climate Walk from national capital Manila to Tacloban City in Leyte to commemorate the first year anniversary of Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan).

He has held fasting campaigns to put pressure on delegations to come up with clear and ambitious legally-binding targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions. 

The targets are seen by some countries as threats to economic development.

Saño, as the country’s chief negotiator, specializes in the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, which focuses on coming up with an effective agreement on emission targets in the much awaited Paris Conference of Parties in 2015. 

The Paris conference aims to come up with a legally-binding agreement that updates the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, an international treaty that commits countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Lima conference is seen as a crucial build up to Paris, aimed at generating political will and building a strong foundation for the 2015 climate deal. 

In his years as Philippine negotiator, Saño helped make the Philippines one of the most powerful negotiating blocs in the UN conferences.

In last year’s conference, the Philippine delegation played a big role in the creation of the Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage, a mechanism which provides financial support, expertise and technology to countries which suffer from impacts of climate change, including typhoons, sea level rise and severe drought. –

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is Rappler’s Community Lead, in charge of linking our journalism with communities for impact.