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Friday, February 23, 2024

‘No more excuses’: Commonwealth Secretary-General will call for accelerated action on climate crisis at COP28

The Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, is leading the Commonwealth delegation at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai to call for accelerated action on the climate crisis in light of intensifying threats to small and vulnerable member countries. Starting from yesterday, King Charles III also attended COP28.

Scheduled from 30 November to 12 December 2023, the annual summit has come just months after Commonwealth environment ministers committed to accelerating climate action at their inaugural meeting, held alongside the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City.

The Secretary-General, who will deliver at least 20 speeches across the summit, will urge negotiators to deliver a transformative outcome at the summit.

This includes accelerating efforts to implement national climate plans mandated under the Paris Agreement, using the findings of the ‘global stocktake’ report to increase ambition and action, and delivering an inclusive, operational Loss and Damage Fund.

Secretary-General Patricia Scotland will officially open the Commonwealth Pavilion COP28, which will host about 40 events across the two weeks, demonstrating the Commonwealth’s ability to convene vital dialogues between governments, experts, businesses, youth leaders and civil society.

She will also meet with leaders and ministers from Commonwealth member countries and across the international community, to advance progress on emissions, finance, adaptation, biodiversity, oceans, health, innovation and the green economy.

‘No more delays’

Ahead of the summit, the Commonwealth Secretary-General said:

“The worst predictions of climate change have become a daily reality. In the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable countries, fertile lands are turning to dust, wells are running dry, storms and floods are overwhelming communities, and the ocean is rising.

“This represents not only a threat to the health, welfare and survival of millions of people, but to our collective stability and economic prospects.

“Yet as climate change advances, the gap on emissions, finance and justice has widened, while the window for action continues to narrow. COP28 must close that gap.

“Every day of delay makes life more dangerous, and makes climate action more complex, challenging and expensive. There can be no more delays, and no more excuses – this is the time for implementation.”

“The health of us all and of our planet rests on a 1.5°C degree cap on global warming,” she added. “We cannot lose sight of that objective, and I implore leaders at COP28 to renew their determination to deliver a bright, resilient, sustainable common world – now and for generations to come.”

During the summit, the Secretary-General will call for increased support for small and vulnerable states, highlighting that despite ambitious pledges, these countries are receiving limited funds to mitigate, adapt to and build resilience against the impacts of climate breakdown.

She will also draw attention to the broader consequences of the climate crisis on economic growth, leading to high debt burdens, food insecurity, stressed resources, and impaired livelihoods for many of the 2.5 billion people living across the Commonwealth.

Commonwealth response

Secretary-General Scotland will inform delegates at COP28 about the Commonwealth’s programme, designed to assist its member countries – including 33 small states – in dealing with the challenges posed by the climate crisis.

These include:

the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub, which has mobilised US $310 million in climate finance for 17 vulnerable Commonwealth countries, with an additional US $500 million in the pipeline;
the Commonwealth Blue Charter, which is an agreement by all 56 member countries to actively co-operate to address shared ocean challenges;
the Commonwealth Living Lands Charter: A Call to Action, which commits Commonwealth countries to safeguard global land resources while taking coordinated action on climate change, biodiversity loss and sustainable land management;
the Commonwealth Disaster Risk Finance Portal, which gives countries open, 24-hour hour access to key information on financing to better manage the impact of disasters; and
the Commonwealth Sustainable Energy Transition Agenda, which seeks to fast-track an inclusive, just, and equitable transition to low-carbon energy systems across the group.

In light of 2023 being designated as the Commonwealth Year of Youth, the Commonwealth delegation will also host a series of events focused on promoting youth-led action on challenges posed by climate change. Please see the full schedule here.

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