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Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland speaking at COP25 in Madrid, Spain

More ambition needed to avert climate crisis

18 December 2019

The Commonwealth Secretary-General has called for raised ambitions and intensified climate action in light of sobering reports by the world’s top climate scientists.

Speaking at the high level segment of the UN Climate Change Conference COP25, Patricia Scotland said: “It is alarming to learn the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on land and oceans, which clearly reports on the devastating implications of global temperatures rising to and beyond 1.5 °C [above pre-industrial levels].”

Reports by the IPCC show that climate change has already affected food security in various parts of the world, due to warming, changing weather patterns, and more frequent extremes such as floods and hurricanes.

In parts of Africa for instance, climate change has already caused lower animal growth rates and productivity. Scientists also project that the frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall events will increase in many regions.

But limiting global warming to 1.5°C would need “more ambitious actions” across land, oceans, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities. Carbon emissions from human activity would need to fall by 45 per cent by 2030, to reach ‘net zero’ around 2050 – that is, when emissions are matched by carbon removed from the atmosphere.

Secretary-General Scotland laid out different ways in which the Commonwealth is helping countries face these realities.

For one, the Commonwealth Finance Access Hub helps small and vulnerable countries cut through the red tape of international finance and develop successful funding applications for climate-related projects. In less than three years, the Hub has helped member countries secure $28.7 million, with an additional $460 million in the pipeline. 

In addition, the Commonwealth Disaster Risk Finance online portal streamlines and pools together information about all the disaster finance available to countries onto one platform. This allows for easier navigation and better understanding of how to access it.

Recognising the crucial link between ocean and climate change, the Commonwealth Blue Charter is a major platform that countries can use to share best practices, align actions and mobilise funding for joint projects.

The Secretary-General continued: “Tackling climate change remains foremost on the Commonwealth’s agenda to support our 53 member states. Urgent action needs to be taken, and the IPCC has given us that evidence.”

The Commonwealth delegation will be in Madrid for the COP25 conference until Friday to advocate for the shared interests of member countries.