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Commonwealth needs to be a loud voice for action on climate: Prime Minister of The Bahamas

By The Commonwealth
International Commonwealth needs to be a loud voice for action on climate: Prime Minister of The Bahamas
MAY 11, 2022 LISTEN

The Commonwealth Secretariat has today held another instance of the Marlborough House Dialogues, its new forum for discussion and dialogue with political leaders and thinkers from across the Commonwealth.

The third Marlborough Dialogue welcomed The Honourable Philip Davis QC MP, Prime Minster of The Bahamas, to speak on the importance of climate action within the Commonwealth family. This discussion is especially important ahead of the upcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda this June and in preparation for COP27 in Egypt.

This Marlborough House Dialogue was titled ‘Commonwealth Leadership in Accelerating Climate Action for SIDS: including for Sustainability and Tourism’.

Small Island Developing States (SIDS) continue to face the most devastating impacts of climate change, resulting in limited economic space to protect themselves and bolster their resilience efforts.

The Commonwealth family has been pushing for collective climate action since 1989, when leaders committed to protecting the environment in the Langkawi Declaration. This was one of the world’s first collective statements to name greenhouse gas emissions as one of the leading problems facing the planet.

Speaking at the dialogue, the Prime Minister of The Bahamas, the Hon Philip Davis QC MP, said:

“We cannot do this alone. We are in an inequitable position on climate change so it is important that the Commonwealth lends its voice. And the time has come that the voice is turned up to ensure that we get the proper response from the world on this existential threat.

“One area we need to tackle vigorously is access to climate funding. The process for accessing climate financing is so tortuous that many small island states like ours have not been able to access funds we need.

“So, the voice of the Commonwealth of Nations needs to be a loud voice sufficient to bring awareness and the need for action not tomorrow but today.”

The discussion was moderated by His Excellency Manoah Esipisu, High Commissioner of Kenya to the United Kingdom.

In her remarks at the Dialogue, the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC, said:

“Climate change is rightly understood as the defining challenge of our times - both an existential threat and a multiplier of existing social and economic inequalities, which will bring forward the tipping point for conflict.

“The Commonwealth has led the way on climate change before and we must do so now.

“But it is only if we are united as a whole Commonwealth that we will meet the existential challenges we face. That is our task.”

Out of the Commonwealth’s 54 members, 32 are classified as ‘small states’, most of whom have a population of less than 1.5 million, including 25 small island developing states.

According to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), small island nations are increasingly affected by a range of climate change impacts, which are already detectable across both natural and human systems. These include rises in temperature, the damaging effects of tropical cyclones, storm surges, droughts, changing rain patterns, sea-level rise, coral bleaching, and invasive species.

Island communities, including the estimated 22 million people in the Caribbean who live below six metres elevation and half of the Pacific region's total population who live within 10 km of the coast, are particularly at risk.

At CHOGM, Commonwealth countries will seek to build on outcomes from the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP26, towards achieving significant progress on issues such as climate finance at the forthcoming COP27 summit in Egypt this November.

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