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Mary Robinson, UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Climate Change

Mary Robinson President, Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice. UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy on Climate Change

We need a step-up in political commitment on climate change

25 November 2015

The United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Change Mary Robinson urged developing countries to “develop without emissions” in order to achieve a zero carbon world.

Mrs Robinson was speaking to Foreign Ministers ahead of the biennial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which begins in Malta on Friday.

 “We know that all countries need to take ambitious climate action. It is also important to recognise, that while the countries most responsible for climate change must lead by decarbonizing their economies rapidly and in accordance with science, for developing countries the challenge is significantly different. The world needs them to follow a path to development that has never been followed before: to develop without emissions.”

Her comments come days before Commonwealth leaders are due to release a joint statement on climate change, ahead of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21).

In her address, the former Irish President stressed the need for adequate climate financing and spoke about the important role that the Commonwealth must play in the run-up to COP21.

She said: “Your Membership understands the breadth of the challenge: the Commonwealth is remarkably representative, comprising a third of the world’s population representing every continent, a quarter of the world’s countries, 2 members of the G7, a quarter of the G20, one of the world’s two biggest countries, 31 Small States, 27 Small Island Developing States and 13 of the Least Developed Countries.”

Mrs Robinson, who is also President of the The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice  praised the Commonwealth’s values, which promote collaborative action, ensuring, she said “that all countries and all people are treated fairly and with dignity.”

She added: “Moreover, the Commonwealth has provided consistent leadership on climate change. In 2009, the Port of Spain Declaration set out many of the key elements around climate financing that continue to guide that work today.”

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, in an earlier statement, said the Commonwealth considers global warming “one of the greatest injustices of our time”.

“Small island states in the Pacific, for example, have done little to cause climate change, yet may soon disappear into a rising ocean.  Barely above sea level, their people could soon pay the ultimate price and be displaced from their homelands.”

This weekend at CHOGM the Commonwealth will announce a Climate Finance Access Hub to support countries in accessing funding for climate change initiatives.

Leaders will also consider an initiative that will enable small island states to have their economic investment in climate-resilient programmes become part of their debt write-off.

Mr Sharma referred to the idea as a possible “game-changer”.

“This will reduce a country’s debt in direct relation to its commitment to invest in fresh climate change action.  Think of what could happen – developing countries could expand marine protected areas, strengthen coastal defences, reform fisheries policies, promote water conservation, manage coastal zones, invest in renewable energy and create institutions to advance their plans—all while paying off their national debt,” the Secretary-General said.;

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