The Commonwealth Secretary-General warned in an interview on Wednesday that some of the world’s smallest countries could “disappear” at the upcoming UN summit without taking action to stop climate change.
Baroness Patricia Scotland told AFP: “A threat to the existence of 42 small states.” “People say that as if it doesn’t mean what it says – namely that these little states will disappear.”
The Dominica-born lawyer and former minister of the British government who heads the Commonwealth of Nations of the former British Empire was speaking during a visit to Rome that included talks with Pope Francis.
She said some of the Commonwealth’s smallest members, such as the lower Pacific Islands of Tuvalu and Nauru, were “looking for new places” because “the sea level rise is now too dangerous”.
She also cried out the devastating impact of more frequent storms, including in her native country.
“Dominica usually looks like the Garden of Eden,” she said. But after 2017’s Hurricane Maria, “the bark of the trees was also stripped, not a single green leaf was left. It was like Armageddon”.
UN climate talks in the Scottish city of Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November aim to secure a global deal to decarbonize world economies and turn humanity’s path away from catastrophic global warming.
Ms Scotland insisted humanity had “no choice” but to act, noting that even the poorest countries most exposed to climate change need extensive debt and vaccine relief.
“We’re all in the same storm, but we’re certainly not in the same boat,” she said.
The Commonwealth brings together 54 countries and 2.6 billion people, and the Baroness is its first female leader.
His term was due to end in 2010, but a decision on whether to reappoint or replace him has been postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I certainly still have a lot of work to do that I would still very much expect to be in my position, but that’s a matter for member states to decide,” she said.
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