WARSAW, Poland, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Amid the devastating destruction of Typhoon Haiyan, the Philippines has called for immediate action on climate change.
In an emotional speech Monday at the opening of the United Nations climate talks in Warsaw, Poland, Yeb Sano, commissioner for the Philippines climate change commission and head of the Philippines delegation, called the climate crisis "madness" and said he would refuse to eat until progress is made.
During the two-week meeting, representatives from some 190 countries aim to forge a new global climate agreement that will take effect in 2020.
"In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home, I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate" during the meeting "until a meaningful outcome is in sight," Sano said.
"What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness, the climate crisis is madness. We can stop this madness right here in Warsaw," he said.
Haiyan has been described by experts as the strongest typhoon that has ever made landfall in the course of recorded human history. The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Manila estimated that 9 million people were affected by the massive storm, Voice of America reported.
"It is now time to take action," Sano said in Warsaw. "We need an emergency climate pathway."
In her opening speech, Executive Secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres, said the typhoon was part of the "sobering reality" and negotiators should go the "extra mile" in their efforts.
Ironically, last year's Doha United Nations climate summit in December was also preceded by a massive typhoon in the Philippines in which more than 6.2 million people were affected.
"The energy that is stored in the waters off the Philippines will increase the intensity of typhoons and the trend we now see is that more destructive storms will be the new norm," Sano said in his speech.
Mary Ann Lucille Sering, vice chairman of the Philippine government's climate change commission, in an interview with The Guardian earlier this year said typhoon-related costs in 2009, the year the commission was created, amounted to 2.9 percent of the country's gross domestic product and have been rising each year since.
The Philippines averages about 20 typhoons each year. It also experiences flooding, drought, earthquakes and occasional volcanic eruptions. It has recorded more than 182 disasters since 2002.
"Extreme weather is becoming more frequent, you could even call it the new normal," Sering told the newspaper.
Sering had noted that opinion surveys revealed that Filipinos consider global warming as a bigger threat than rising food and fuel prices.