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42 Small Countries Could Disappear Without Action Against Climate Change: Commonwealth

Scotland insisted that humanity had "no choice" but to act, noting that poor nations exposed to climate change also need extensive debt and vaccine relief.  (Marco Alpozzi/LaPresse via AP)

Scotland insisted that humanity had "no choice" but to act, noting that poor nations exposed to climate change also need extensive debt and vaccine relief. (Marco Alpozzi/LaPresse via AP)

The secretary general of the Commonwealth said "the sea level rises are so dangerous now".

Some of the world’s smallest countries could “disappear" without action at an upcoming UN summit to contain climate change, the secretary general of the Commonwealth warned in a Wednesday interview.

“The threat to the 42 small states in existential," Baroness Patricia Scotland told AFP. “People say that as if it does not mean what it says — namely these small states will disappear."

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The Dominica-born lawyer and former British government minister, who leads the Commonwealth association of former countries of the British empire, was speaking during a visit to Rome that included talks with Pope Francis.

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She said some of the Commonwealth’s smallest members, like the low-lying Pacific islands of Tuvalu and Nauru, were “looking for new places to go" because “the sea level rises are so dangerous now".

She also decried the devastating impact of more frequent hurricanes, including in her native country.

“Dominica usually looks like a Garden of Eden," she said. But after 2017’s Hurricane Maria “even the bark of trees had been stripped, there was not one green leaf left. It was like Armageddon".

UN climate talks in the Scottish city of Glasgow from October 31 to November 12 are aimed at securing a global deal on decarbonising world economies and charting humanity’s path away from catastrophic global warming.

Scotland insisted that humanity had “no choice" but to act, noting that poor nations exposed to climate change also need extensive debt and vaccine relief.

“We are all in the same storm, but we’re definitely not all 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.

Her term was supposed to end in 2010, but a summit to decide whether to reappoint her or replace her has been postponed twice due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I certainly have so much work still to do that I would very much expect to still be in my position, but it is a matter for member states to decide," she said.

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first published:October 13, 2021, 22:15 IST