The UN climate talks opened on Monday in the backdrop of the devastating impacts of Typhoon Haiyan one of the strongest storms ever to hit landfall.
Yeb Sano, climate commissioner for the Philippines made an electrifying and emotional appeal for action on climate. Delegates held an unprecedented 3 minute silence in solidarity, and Mr. Sano broke down recounting how his brother was digging dead bodies out with his bare hands.
In an arrangement with the Philippines delegation to demonstrate their solidarity with those impacted by this climate disaster, civil society were to accompany Mr. Sano from the plenary hall to a side-event. UN-security were informed of the gesture some minutes prior to the action and a green light was given. Despite authorisation, the three young people accompanying Mr. Sano, who unfolded a sign with the names of some of the devastated Filipino towns in a gesture of solidarity, were reprimanded by security and ejected from the UN halls.
Clémence Hutin from Young Friends of the Earth Europe, and Graham Thurston Hallett and Maria Alejandra Escalante from Earth in Brackets were attending their first COP. The three youth activists were subsequently informed that on the express orders of Christiana Figueres, the UNFCCC Exec Secretary, they were being banned indefinitely from the negotiations.
"We find the decision from the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Christiana Figueres, unprecedented and exaggerated. This is a decision that needs to be undone, so Maria, Clémence and Graham can join us for the rest of the climate talks," said Maruska Mileta from Young Friends of the Earth Europe.
"To ban young people from the climate summit, for simply showing solidarity with the people of Philippines is deeply unjust. Not only for the youth who were evicted, but also for the entire civil society - this decision sends a very worrying message to civil society all over the world," said Lucas Burdick from Earth in Brackets.
"The UN climate conference is covered in the names of some of the biggest polluting companies who are sponsoring the event, yet the names of the communities impacted by climate change can't be shown? Christiana Figueres needs to think about what message she wants the world to see," said Lucy Patterson from Push Europe.
Young Friends of the Earth Europe, as part of the Friends of the Earth International delegation, and Earth in Brackets are appealing to the Executive Secretary to overturn the decision.
At 1pm on Wednesday 13th of November, a press conference will be convened by the civil society of the Philippines on this issue in Press Conference Room 2 at the COP19 climate summit in Warsaw.
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Young Friends of the Earth Europe, Earth in Brackets
Maruska Mileta, Young Friends of the Earth Europe, firstname.lastname@example.org, +48 733671618
Adrian Fernandez Jauregui, Earth in Brackets: email@example.com, +48 733 451 495