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Tropical Storm Erika, August 2015. Photo credit: NOAA View

We need a Commonwealth plan to deliver on Paris climate change agreement

5 April 2016

The Commonwealth needs to take responsibility for delivering the global climate change agreement signed in Paris last December, the new Secretary-General will argue today at an event in London.

Secretary-General Scotland will say that “having been instrumental in achieving the Paris agreement, the Commonwealth now has to be instrumental in delivering it.”

Speakers at the event include Sir David King, the UK Foreign Secretary’s Special Representative for Climate Change, and Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice and former United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Change.

More than 90 High Commissioners and climate change experts will meet to pinpoint the challenges facing governments in implementing the global agreement on climate change (COP21) and identify effective strategies to ensure its full implementation.

Watch the event live: Wednesday 6 April, 11am (UK time)


The Secretary-General, who took office on 1st April, will say: “For those of us who live in the Pacific, where Fiji is still recovering from the worst storm recorded in the southern hemisphere, and in the Caribbean, where Storm Erika demolished infrastructure and devastated lives, we understand that climate change is a matter of life and death.

“This is why we need to move swiftly from agreement to action on climate change.”

The Commonwealth has been calling for collective action on this topic since 1989, when it adopted the Langkawi declaration on the environment. In 1994 it facilitated the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small-Island Developing States (SIDS), and in 2009 Commonwealth Heads signed the Port of Spain Climate Change Consensus: The Commonwealth Climate Change Declaration. This declaration had a decisive impact on COP15 in Copenhagen.
The Secretary-General added: “Last year’s CHOGM was historic because we were able to get 53 member governments to commit to a climate change ‘speed limit’ of two degrees. We were able to truly amplify the voices of small and vulnerable states and won over countries like Canada that had been sceptical in the past.

“Now it’s time to get to work, and this policy dialogue is the first step in making sure we understand the specific challenges facing governments in implementing the Paris Agreement and to agree on effective strategies to address those challenges.”

The event will be the first in a series of high-level policy dialogues on climate change hosted by the Commonwealth Secretary-General. 

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