Walking to the Paris climate talks

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Walking to the Paris climate talks

By Iris C. Gonzales

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It’s a long way to Paris for Yeb Saño. He is walking from Rome to Paris to make people think about climate change. (Yann Caradec under a Creative Commons Licence)

He will never forget this important walk. He hopes it will make people think about the problems that cause climate change. Yeb Saño used to be the Philippine Climate Change Commissioner. He is leading this 1,500 kilometre walk. It will take 60 days to walk from Rome to Paris. He is doing it to make people think about climate change before the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris from 30 November to 11 December.

Now (October) they are in Bologna, Italy, on the 14th day of the journey.

Last year, Saño went from Manila to Tacloban. His family is from Tacloban – it was the area in the Philippines that suffered most from Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Haiyan killed at least 6,000 people and was one of the strongest typhoons in the Philippines.

Saño went to Rome in September to start his walk. Many church groups and groups of environmentalists eg. Greenpeace, around the world support him. He wants big companies and world governments going to the Paris UN climate talks to do something to help countries like the Philippines.

Before the climate talks, big businesses are making suggestions to stop climate change. But their ideas really only help the businesses.

For example, liquefied natural gas and clean oil. Big oil companies like Royal Dutch Shell are saying we need more natural gas, as an alternative to coal. But there is not enough natural gas to stop us using coal. The real alternative is renewable energy. And this is good for the environment.

Also, big energy companies are saying we need ‘clean coal’, but this does not exist. Saño said that getting power from coal is the main reason for human-caused climate change.

He said that technology has helped cut the pollution from the coal industry. But this is very expensive. So businesses only invest money in this technology in countries where they legally have to control the air quality.

‘Coal will always be dirty, because even with technology to control air pollution, we still get coal ash. This means heavy metal can get into the environment if they do not get rid of it properly. Also, they have to get rid of the water they use. This is a dangerous risk to human health. And open coal mines damage the land forever. So coal can never really be “clean”,’ he told me by email.

Saño hopes for a miracle in Paris so that countries make a fair agreement at the climate talks.

‘Climate change is not just about very bad weather eg. typhoons. It’s also about people’s development. If people have to live in unfair global economic systems, they will suffer, and climate change will make all this worse’ he said.

Like Sano, I’m also hoping for a miracle.

Read more about the Paris climate talks in the November 2015 New Internationalist:

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NOW READ THE ORIGINAL: http://newint.org/blog/majority/2015/10/22/yeb-sano-walk-paris/ (This article has been simplified so the words, text structure and quotes may have been changed).