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Philippine climate pilgrims to bring Laudato si' to Paris

Victims of climate disasters want to send message to world leaders

Joe Torres, Manila

Joe Torres, Manila

Published: September 29, 2015 02:56 AM GMT

Updated: September 28, 2015 04:47 PM GMT

Philippine climate pilgrims to bring Laudato si' to Paris

Environmental activist Naderev Sano thanks supporters during the send-off for participants of the global "people's pilgrimage" to Paris on Sept. 26. (Photo by Vincent Go)

Philippine "climate pilgrims" will bring a copy of Pope Francis' encyclical Laudato si' when they embark on a 60-day "people's pilgrimage" from St. Peter's Square to Paris on Sept. 30.

"For us right now [Laudato si'] is the most important message that world leaders need to hear," said environmental activist Naderev Sano. 

Global leaders will attempt to forge a new treaty aimed at limiting global warming during a U.N. summit in France in December.

The 2015 U.N. Climate Change Conference, which will be held in a Paris from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11, aims to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate.

"We expect to arrive in Paris two days before the opening of the climate summit," Sano told ucanews.com in an interview. 

He said thousands of environmental activists from around the world are expected to join the pilgrimage that is supported by pro-environment and faith organizations. 

"This is a pilgrimage, and it has a very strong spiritual component," said Sano.

"We are a people who believe in faith, we also believe in miracles, so as we walk, we hold firmly with our belief that a miracle can happen in Paris," the environmental activist said.

He said the Paris meeting needs to be portrayed as the "start of a new era of cooperation."

"I don't think the U.N. system can come up with a once-and-for-all 2015 agreement that can stop climate change. It's just practically and politically unfeasible," Sano said.

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Sano, the Philippines' former chief climate diplomat, grabbed the limelight at the 2013 U.N. climate talks when he made an emotional call for world leaders to take firm action against global warming.

"What my country is going through as a result of this extreme climate event is madness. The climate crisis is madness," Sano said in his address in Warsaw.

Days before the meeting, super typhoon Haiyan hit the central Philippines, killing at least 7,500 people.

"We cannot sit and stay helpless staring at this international climate stalemate. It is now time to take action. We need an emergency climate pathway," he said in 2013.

Participants of Philippines 'Climate Walk' cross a bridge to the province of Leyte during the first anniversary of typhoon Haiyan in November 2014. Philippine climate pilgrims will be carrying a copy of Laudato si' to the U.N. climate summit in Paris in December. (Photo by Roi Lagarde/Greenpeace)


Important issue

Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila wished the pilgrims luck during a Sept. 26 send-off.

"It is good that there are Filipinos who join the pilgrimage because we have always been victims of disasters brought about by climate change," the prelate told ucanews.com.

"Hopefully people will be aware of the importance of the climate change issue," Bishop Pabillo said.

"We have a lot of things to learn about change that the pope is telling all of us," said the prelate.

On Sept. 22, Filipino typhoon victims, climate advocates and civil society groups filed the world's first ever climate change and human rights complaint. 

The complainants are asking for an investigation into the top 50 investor-owned fossil fuel companies' culpability for fuelling catastrophic climate change resulting in human rights violations.

The Vatican to Paris pilgrimage will be the culmination of Sano's six-month journey around the world to places hit hard by climate change.

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