Yeb Saño, an influential climate change policy negotiator for the Philippines, said he was “silenced” after questions emerged about his absence from this year’s UN conference on climate change in Lima, Peru.
Two years ago, at the UN’s Doha climate conference, Saño, a trained lawyer, gave a memorable speech in which he broke down while calling on world leaders to do more to protect the world’s 7 billion people from environmental ruin.
A year later, in Warsaw, Saño broke down again as he announced he would go on a hunger strike until the talks produced a substantial agreement.
He ended up fasting for two weeks, prompting hundreds of activists as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury and the head of the church of Sweden to join him.
But as the Guardian’s John Vidal reports, Saño has been missing from this year’s negotiations, which have just entered their second week, prompting speculation that the Philippines government bowed to pressure from industrialized nations to exclude him from the conference.
“[Saño’s absence] has certainly left many wondering if this could be due to pressure being brought to bear on small countries like the Philippines by those whose interests such powerful voices threaten,” Friends of the Earth UK’s Asad Rehman told Vidal.
In a series of Tweets from the Philippines, which is currently being battered by a typhoon that has already killed 21, Saño said he was “silenced” for his emotional outbursts.
This weekend, Saño told Mashable that he is "at a loss" for why he is not in Lima.
"I can only speculate because I don’t know what goes on in the minds of some people who have made this decision," he said. "I am reluctant to comment on this right now because things are not yet settled down right now."
He added that he nevertheless supports his government's position of helping reach an agreement to limit global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius.
The Lima talks are expected to produce by Friday a "draft text" of countries' emissions commitments, to be cemented at next year's climate talks in Paris.
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.