Climate Walk: From Kilometer Zero to Ground Zero

Climate Walkers in the Philippines/ Photo by Climate Walk

Not content with sparking a global fasting movement Fast for the Climate at last year's Warsaw climate talks, the Philippines' Climate Commissioner, Naderev 'Yeb' Saño is now three weeks into a 1000km walk for climate action . That's right. He is walking 1000km -- and has already walked over halfway.‬

‪To understand why Yeb is walking such an incredible distance, you need a little bit of context.‬

‪In the middle of the Doha climate talks in 2012, Typhoon Bopha hit the Philippines. Bopha's 175 mile per hour winds flattened entire villages, wiped out roads and killed 1,067 people. In Doha, the youth and civil society representatives rallied around Yeb, symbolically standing behind the Philippines' red lines.‬

‪Fast forward 12 months. On November 8, 2013, just before the Warsaw climate talks, Typhoon Haiyan made landfall in the Philippines. For Yeb, it must have felt like Groundhog Day. One year on, on the eve of one more UN climate conference, one more unprecedented "hellstorm."

‪Make no mistake: Typhoon Bopha was unprecedented, but so was Typhoon Haiyan. Both storms struck outside the Philippines' traditional typhoon belt, but Haiyan was worse by an order of magnitude. Bopha killed 1,067 people and destroyed villages. Haiyan killed over 10,000 and destroyed towns and cities.‬

‪So, with tears in his eyes, Yeb opened the Warsaw climate talks by pledging to fast throughout the talks. By the next day, over 30 people within the conference centre were fasting with him. Within a week, there were over 100. As the talks ended, Yeb announced that he would continue by fasting one day every month -- and over 1,000 people have joined him in the global Fast for the Climate ‬ movement.‬

‪Yeb's Climate Walk takes him from the capital, Manila, to Tacloban -- the city hit worst by Typhoon Haiyan, and where 12 months ago his brother was digging people from the rubble while Yeb spoke to the United Nations. Yeb is joined by his brother, refugees from Tacloban, Filipino activists, and a faster, Alan Burns.‬

‪As they pass through towns and villages, others walk with them, and share stories of climate change's daily effects on their lives. Wherever he can, Yeb persuades town and village councils to sign onto ambitious climate action. Locals walk out to meet them, shake their hands, and just thank them. If the walk itself wasn't enough, there's about a 50 percent chance of a typhoon hitting while they are walking!‬

‪As I #fastfortheclimate with Yeb and Alan on 1 November 2014, I am moved by their incredible effort, and by the communities hit by climate disaster that they pass through. If you want to support them, take a photo of your feet, and share it on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtags #fastfortheclimate and #climatewalk.‬

"Today, November 1, the Climate Walk staff visited the mass burial grave in Tacloban. May their souls rest in peace." Photo by Climate Walk