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Commonwealth secretary general says hurricanes underscores need to deal with impact of climate change

Monday, September 25, 2017

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LONDON, United Kingdom (CMC) — Commonwealth Secretary General, Baroness Patricia Scotland, on Monday urged the international community to re-double its efforts to fully understand the impact of climate change given the effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria on the Caribbean in recent weeks.

Scotland described Hurricane Maria that slammed into Dominica last Monday killing an estimated 28 people and leaving millions of dollars in damages as a “monster” leaving no part of the island untouched.

The Dominican-born Secretary General told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that in the case of Barbuda, the tiny Caribbean island was “wrecked” when Hurricane Irma, another Category 5 storm made landfall late last month.

“So what does that mean for all of us? It means we must redouble our efforts. We must advocate even more trenchantly to help the world understand the Paris Agreement is non-negotiable. For those of us on the front line across our Commonwealth, the pain and suffering of climate is immense.

“We have seen mudslides in Sierra Leone, we have seen flooding in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and India. We have seen the whole of the Caribbean region devastated and we now hear, just a few days ago about earthquakes in Vanuatu…

“So this reality is our new reality, multiplicity of events happening one after the other and we must respond and we must respond now. So coordination, collaboration is vitally important,” she said, noting that “we have been talking here at the UN with all the UN agencies, how do we collaborate with CARICOM and to the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP).

“How do we all of us make a better response and a better answer to the problems that we now face,” she said, noting that the Commonwealth has been developing a model of responding to climate change.

“This regenerative development with a view to reversing the apparent impact of climate is now of pivotal importance and so as we go towards Bonn at COP 23, the Commonwealth will continue to work on the Blue Charter, continue to work on our Blue economy and continue to see how we could elaborate and communicate with all of those who are going to be part of the solution and that means each and every one of us.”

United States President Donald Trump, who toured the devastation in Texas caused by Hurricane Irma, had in June announced that the US would cease all participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change mitigation.

He said then that the Paris accord would undermine the US economy and put the country at a permanent disadvantage. Trump stated that the withdrawal would be in accordance with his America First policy.

Following Trump's announcement, the governors of several US states formed the United States Climate Alliance to continue to advance the objectives of the Paris Agreement despite the federal withdrawal.

Scotland said that the Commonwealth will be staging two meetings including that of the finance ministers in Washington “where we will be talking about climate as well as the other challenges. We have got our climate change hub which we will be seeking to gain more support for”.

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