Only rapid and drastic action against climate change can prevent a climate breakdown, according to the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report released today. The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, stressed the urgency to heed this warning and act now to protect Commonwealth Small States.
“For over thirty years the Commonwealth has been raising the alarm on climate change, yet the window of opportunity for taking action to avoid irreversible consequences is now closing even more rapidly than scientists had previously predicted – and with it the prospects of safety and even survival for some of our Small and Vulnerable States. Jeopardising their continuing viability and sustainability would be too high a price to pay for failure to agree and implement urgent measures to prevent further damage,” said Secretary-General Scotland.
Commonwealth Small States comprise 32 of the Commonwealth’s 54 Member States spanning across 5 regions globally and their economies are subject to extreme volatility in the event of an external shock such as natural disasters. The increased frequency of climate disasters is threatening the progress of social and economic development in many Commonwealth Small States.
The IPCC data will inform climate negotiations ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in November. The report stresses that although many changes are irreversible, strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases can limit some of the worst impacts of climate change.
In the leadup to COP26, the Commonwealth Secretariat is building on the work of the Commonwealth Blue Charter, which works to protect our oceans and the Climate Finance Access Hub which aims to make sure that Commonwealth Small States can access the funds they need to tackle climate change.
Today, Secretary-General Scotland called on Commonwealth governments to act boldly and without delay, nationally and multilaterally:
“There has never been a greater need for cooperation and leadership among all nations, in the Commonwealth family and more broadly, to join together to deliver climate action. Only through urgent and decisive interventions with and for each other can we hope to create a safe and sustainable living planet for all people of this and future generations,” she said.