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"The decision to stop destroying what is keeping us alive is firmly in our hands"

27 October 2016
Scientists and experts meet to explore climate change reversal

Can cities designed to mimic the carbon reducing capability of trees help reverse the effects of climate change? This is one of the big questions scientists and experts will tackle when they meet for the Commonwealth’s Regenerative Development to Reverse Climate Change Workshop on 28 and 29 October 2016.

Organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat, in collaboration with the Cloudburst Foundation, the workshop will be hosted by Secretary-General Patricia Scotland in London. Participants will explore cutting-edge technologies and innovations that can reduce carbon and roll back the effects of climate change, while supporting economic development.

They will focus on the regenerative development model, which promotes advancement that is financially viable, but also complements, protects and restores the natural environment. 

“This is not the stuff of fairy tales”, said Secretary-General Scotland. “Architects are already using the grand design of the life-giving arteries in leaves, in the structure of trees and in the human lungs to create safer, more environmentally friendly buildings.

“There are many viable solutions that have not been fully explored. So, can we tap in to the power of volcanic hot springs for our electricity? There is already a functioning geothermal power plant in Iceland. Can we do more to protect and regenerate the coastal wetlands? The amazing ecosystems in these marshes, mangroves and sea grasses are helping us to capture and safely store carbon.”

The Secretary-General, who has cited climate change as one of her priorities, said she will continue the Secretariat’s long history of advocacy for action on the issue. Last year, decisions made at Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting on the eve of the COP21 climate change summit, were instrumental in achieving a commitment to a climate change ‘speed limit’ of two degrees and aspirations for 1.5 degrees.

“But the brutal reality,” the Secretary-General said, “is that for countries like Kiribati in the Pacific, this is not enough. They are still going to disappear into the ocean. Can we do more without negatively impacting economic development? This is the big question I have posed to these renowned scientists and experts who will be working with our own climate change specialists this week.”

Scheduled just days ahead of the international climate change conference, COP22, in Marrakesh, the two-day workshop will consider the potential for a “climate change reversal lab” next year. The aim, the Secretary-General said, is to give Commonwealth countries tailored and funded climate action toolkits. She believes the initiative is a perfect companion for the Secretariat’s pioneering Climate Finance Access Hub, which opened its doors last month to help Commonwealth countries gain access to billions of dollars.. 

“We really need to find a way to impress upon everyone the urgency of tackling this challenge, said Secretary-General Scotland. “The earth’s ‘lung’ is essentially at risk of terminal cancer, because of the choices we have made. If it dies, so do we. The decision to stop destroying what is keeping us alive is firmly in our hands.” 

#Commonwealth #ClimateChange event will provide fresh perspectives for potential innovation. Find out more: https://t.co/VNlEblDTuq #COP22 pic.twitter.com/JAgYIlTkA9

— The Commonwealth (@commonwealthsec) October 24, 2016