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Commonwealth Secretary General, Patricia Scotland, has pledged the support of the 56-member grouping in helping members of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) secure the US$100 billion committed by major carbon-emitting nations to combat the worst impacts of climate change.
“We have to make sure that when people promise they actually deliver. And so there’s a lot of work to do.” Scotland told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) after attending the two-day 10th OACPS Summit of Head of States and of Governments that ended here last weekend.
“And we in the Commonwealth, linking hands with everyone with the Organisation of African Caribbean states, with CARICOM, with the African Union, with the Pacific Island Forum, with the UN with the World Bank, with Dr. Tedros [Adhanom Ghebreyesus] of WHO, we are linking hands with all of our partners, because we have to deliver this,” she said.
“The clock is ticking. And we know that if we don’t move, then there will be millions of those we love who will lose their homes, their lives and their livelihoods,” she added.
At the start of the OASCPS summit, the Caribbean and the Pacific flagged climate change among the major challenges affecting their development and Scotland told CMC “So it’s on us to push to deliver and to make sure that those who are not listening, actually get to feel what it means for them to ignore those who are suffering.
“So, we’re all raising our voices. I was delighted to be here. Delighted to hear the strong statements coming from all over the African, Caribbean, Pacific region. And we are one and we will remain one until this is done.”
She said the Commonwealth has a real role to play in terms of supporting the sustainable agenda and the delivery of the climate change agreement made in Paris in 2015.
Scotland noted that it was the Commonwealth, back in 1981, before the first United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP) was held in Langkawi in Malaysia, had identified that climate change poses an existential threat.
“And the reason the Commonwealth highlighted that issue is, of the 42 small states in the world, the majority of them, 33, are in our Commonwealth. So, it’s really critically important that our Commonwealth countries in the Pacific, in the Caribbean are literally drowning as the sea rises…” Scotland told CMC.
She said also it was at the Commonwealth meeting in Rwanda this year that 54 leaders came together and agreed that they would put loss and damage on the global climate talks agenda.
“It’s in our communique; in paragraph 53. And when our leaders went from Kigali to Sharm el Sheikh (Egypt where COP27 held in 2022), which was the first African COP, they all insisted that loss and damage should be on that agenda. And you know, we fought for it and we got lost and damaged agreed.”
Scotland told CMC, however, that just agreeing to have the money is not the same as getting the money, noting that in 2009, developed countries pledged US$100 billion to help developing countries adapt to climate change.
“They promised to give US$100 billion. Even now, today, that US$100 billion hasn’t been delivered. So it’s not just the saying, it’s the doing and the Commonwealth has created the climate finance access hub, which puts climate finance advisors in countries to help them to really get at that money.