Commonwealth: Commit to Limit Global Warming or Face Irreversible Impacts

Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Patricia Scotland said
there is urgent need for higher climate ambition to limit global
temperature increase to 1.5 ° Celsius – or risk severe and
irreversible impacts. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS

By Desmond Brown
MADRID, Dec 12 2019 (IPS)

Commonwealth countries, including those in the Caribbean,
continue to push for more ambition, following reports that a few
very influential parties have stymied efforts to respond to the
climate emergency.

The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) has expressed
concern that if this persists, the majority’s efforts to create
platforms to unleash climate action suitable for averting
catastrophic warming will be thwarted.

As the United Nations climate negotiations, the 25th Conference Of The Parties
(COP25)
, is nearing an end, Secretary-General of the
Commonwealth Patricia Scotland said there is urgent need for higher
climate ambition to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5 °
Celsius – or risk severe and irreversible impacts.

“We’ve never seen disasters on this scale before – bigger
than ever, seas are rising, there’s increased desertification,
increase in drought,” Scotland told IPS.

“The fight is on. Nobody ever knows how a COP will go until
the end, so there’s a lot of us who are advocating for greater
ambition because we have no choice.”

  • According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
    (IPCC)
    , it is imperative that global warming be held to 1.5 °
    C above pre-industrial levels. It also warns that global warming of
    2 ° C would have devastating impacts on the planet, including more
    frequent extreme weather events, flooding and drought.
  • A special report from the IPCC defines global warming as “an
    increase in combined surface air and sea surface temperatures
    averaged over the globe and over a 30-year period”.
  • The report, entitled Global
    Warming of 1.5 ° C: An IPCC Special Report
    on the impacts of
    global warming of 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels, uses
    comparisons to the 1850 to 1900 period as an approximation of
    pre-industrial temperatures.

Scotland said an ideal outcome from COP 25 would be recognition
of the IPCC’s findings.

“A recognition that we have no time. A recognition that the
IPCC reports are correct and that we now have an aggressive
implementable, action-oriented plan, which every single country is
going to be committed to delivering. That would be my dream,”
Scotland said.

“If you look through everything the Commonwealth is doing, we
too are tired of talk; we want to do. We are committed to
doing.”

Scotland said commonwealth countries are living climate
change.

  • This September, the Bahamas was hit by Hurricane Dorian,
    resulting in initial damages already totalling $3.4 billion, equal
    to one-fourth of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  • The catastrophic 2017 Atlantic hurricane season affected many
    Caribbean states, resulting in an estimated 3,300 deaths and
    damages estimated at $282 billion.
  • In Dominica, Hurricane Maria resulted in total damages of $931
    million or 236 perecent of their 2016 GDP.

“We are living with the sea rises, we are living with coastal
erosion, we are living with the degradation of habitats, we are
living with the reality of what climate change means, and we’re
fighting,” Scotland said.

“It is not enough for us to talk. All of us need to do
constructive things, which will make it incrementally better and
more achievable for us to get where we can go. I think we can do
it, but we haven’t got a lot of time.

“I’ve said before, human genius got us into this mess, and
human genius is going to have to get us out. And I know that the
people of the Caribbean and the people of the Commonwealth, we have
a lot of genius, so we are going to have to utilise it very
quickly,” she added.

Dr. Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary General at the CARICOM
Secretariat, said the expectation coming into COP 25 was that it
was all about ambition.

For the Caribbean, he said, ambition is about trying to have
member states committing to keeping the global temperature rise to
below 1.5 ° C.

“We know that is a big challenge, and the ambition we want is
that there will be a recommitment of all, especially the big
polluters, with their Nationally Determined Contributions,”
Slater told IPS.

“In other words, what will they be doing to decrease
greenhouse gasses and therefore keep temperatures down? Quite
frankly, we are informed that there was supposed to be what you
call a stock taking at this meeting, where we would have an idea of
where we are. We’re told that that might now come out. If it
doesn’t come out, we still hope that we will be on our
way.”

Slater said Caribbean countries will continue to put moral
pressure on big polluters as they were causing the problems and
should commit to solving them.

“We’re seeing the horrible storms, but it is not just those.
There are the slow onset events – that is, as the temperature
rises and the level of the sea, we are losing land, we’re losing
out mangroves, we are losing out coral reefs,” Slater said.

“We want that reality coming out of this COP, that we send a
message strong enough so that the bigger players understand and to
put some moral pressure on them to say ‘hey, we are part of the
universe. We have a right to be here, and that right we have to be
here depends on all of us working together.’”

The post
Commonwealth: Commit to Limit Global Warming or Face Irreversible
Impacts
appeared first on Inter Press Service.

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Commonwealth: Commit to Limit Global Warming or Face Irreversible Impacts