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Resource-strapped countries need climate finance support

16 November 2016

The Commonwealth will help member countries access funding and innovative solutions to make the Paris climate agreement a reality, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland will tell delegates at the global climate change conference this week.

The Secretary-General will speak at the high level segment of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change conference, COP22, on 17 November.

She will address concerns over financing for climate initiatives and highlight the benefits of the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub. The Hub was launched in September to help small and climate-vulnerable states draw on billions of pledged funds that have yet to be utilized.

“Donors are contributing to the pot of climate funds, but it’s all tied up in red tape and countries are having to manoeuvre through immensely complicated processes to access it. At present at least half of Commonwealth small states have requested assistance through the hub. This demand reflects the great challenge facing resource-strapped countries,” said Secretary-General Scotland.

“It goes to the heart of concerns over meeting targets to reduce emissions in the Paris Agreement and the level of ambition in national climate pledges. The bottom line is that governments need money to come up with innovative solutions to address this threat to our existence.”

Last month the Secretary-General, in collaboration with the Cloudburst Foundation, invited experts to examine the possibility of significantly accelerating the pace of carbon emission reduction at a workshop at Marlborough House in London.  

She said: “We had leading scientists, academics and experts from universities and regional organisations in the Caribbean, the Pacific, Africa, Asia and Europe explore innovations that can be scaled up to help countries tackle climate change. One example is concrete that can ‘breath in’ and safely dispose of carbon. We also learnt about projects in the Commonwealth, like restoration of the Rugezi Wetlands in Rwanda that reversed declining hydropower production and boosted food security,” she said. 

The experts are working with the Commonwealth Secretariat on a climate action project to propose to its members. The initiative is a perfect companion for the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub. 

The Secretary-General added: “I am proud of the fact that the Commonwealth was instrumental in the Paris Agreement achieved at COP21. The influence of the Commonwealth Leaders’ Statement on Climate Change made at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Malta on the eve of COP21 is undeniable.

"What we achieved in Paris was historic. But there is unfinished business. The Commonwealth is working hard to ensure that future generations do not accuse us of going back on our commitment to tackle climate change.”

Notes to editors:

  • Climate change is an immediate existential threat for many Commonwealth countries.
  • Small and vulnerable countries often contribute the least to climate change and yet are bearing the brunt of its effects.
  • The Commonwealth accounts for 16% of greenhouse gas emission annually out of 44,815 megatons of global emissions per year.
  • The Commonwealth Charter gives us a mandate to support adaption and mitigation – including the development and transfer of affordable, climate friendly technologies. It also recognises the need for sustainable development that respects and protects the environment.
  • The Commonwealth has been advocating for collective action on climate change since 1989 when it adopted the Langkawi Declaration. In 1994 it facilitated the Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, and in 2009 Commonwealth Heads signed the Port of Spain Climate Change Consensus: The Commonwealth Climate Change Declaration.
  • The Commonwealth was also instrumental in the Paris pact achieved at COP21, which followed the Commonwealth Leaders’ Statement on Climate Change made at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Malta in November 2015.

More information on the Commonwealth's climate action work

Learn more about the Commonwealth's engagement at COP22

For interview requests, please contact Will Henley at [email protected] 

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