Commonwealth SG calls for greater unity on climate change

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Commonwealth SG Baroness Patricia Scotland

LONDON, United Kingdom (CMC) – Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, has called for more action to deal with the impact of climate change as the international community gets ready to debate the issue at the United Nations General Assembly in September.

In a statement, she said “those of us who have seen first-hand the death and destruction climate change is causing often feel like characters in a disaster film warning of impending doom.

“For many the penny dropped after watching Hurricane Ophelia batter the UK. It connected to the narrative of Caribbean countries flattened by hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones wreaking havoc in the Pacific islands, and rich arable lands in Africa turned to desert. In some cases, countries lost the equivalent of 200 per cent of their GDP (gross domestic product) in hours.

“The loss of life is heart-breaking – as is the trillions of dollars’ worth of damage and the resulting spiralling debt and economic regression,” she said.

The Dominican-born Secretary General said that she was urging policy makers to consider with the utmost seriousness what they can do to join the Commonwealth efforts to combat climate change.

“More needs to be done, not just by governments and industry, but by each and every one of us taking our responsibilities seriously.

“Climate change is thankfully high on the agenda at September’s UN General Assembly (UNGA). The gathering is our opportunity to demolish the negative contentions of multilateral sceptics and to mobilise inclusive and responsible action for a sustainable future.”

She said the theme “A Race We Can Win. A Race We Must Win” is promising, “yet we are doomed to failure if we fail to recognise that the tools we need to win against climate change are political will, collaboration, scientific research and innovation.

“These go hand in hand with financing and global public education campaigns to inspire behavioural change.”

Scotland said that the Climate Change Performance Index , which measures climate protection performance, shows a huge swathe of the globe scoring low on climate action, very few countries scoring high and no country achieving top points for climate action.

“Europe has experienced an unprecedented heatwave with France registering record-breaking temperatures of 45.9 degrees Celsius. The stark truth is that climate change is not at our door, but in our house and ransacking our treasured belongings.”

She said policy makers need to assist the Commonwealth in helping countries to access finance for climate change-related projects, to promote innovative development solutions as well as “to demand strong and enforceable climate legislation, and to launch a robust public education programme which demystifies climate change and places the passion for climate action in the hearts of every man, woman and child”.

She warned that only with a truly inclusive and worldwide effort, with every nation, government and community on board can we win the battle.

“If we sit back with hands folded we send the world to hell in a handcart with ourselves on board, and discussions about trade, security, health and education become futile and meaningless,” she added.