Commonwealth boss warns of mass migration unless climate cash delivered

  • World
  • Monday, 11 Dec 2023

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland attends the Commonwealth Foreign Affairs Ministers Meeting in London, Britain March 15, 2023. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/Pool/File Photo

DUBAI (Reuters) - Richer countries need urgently to provide money to help their vulnerable peers adapt to the impact of climate change or face consequences including mass migration, the secretary general of the Commonwealth told Reuters.

Speaking on the sidelines of the COP28 climate talks in Dubai, Patricia Scotland said the last 20 years had shown a "direct correlation" between the climate crisis and movement of people.

"If we don't make the Global South liveable... people will move, because there is a thirst in humans and humanity to stay alive," she said.

"So if we wish to help people to stay where they were born and to enjoy and rejoice in the beauty of their land, we have to maintain that land with them and for them."

Even after a year of record temperatures, together with flooding and wildfires, ramping up the provision of cash referred to as "adaptation finance" has been a sticking point at U.N. talks in Dubai that are scheduled to finish on Tuesday.

Richer countries such as the United States and European Union have been keen not to assume liability, sources have told Reuters.

A report by the United Nations last month suggested the gap in financing adaptation was as much as $366 billion a year.

"We need more focus and we need more money, but it shouldn't be recycled money. This has to be new money," Scotland said.

The first day of the climate talks at the end of November agreed a deal on a loss and damage fund to help vulnerable countries hit by climate-related disasters, but Scotland said more was needed.

"We have to push harder, we have to scale it up and we've got to go deeper, broader. But the most important thing is we have to go faster," she said.

The loss and damage fund has attracted pledges of $726 million.

At the level of the Commonwealth, which evolved out of the British Empire, Scotland said the Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub, which provides support to member countries and started in 2016 with $10 million, has since distributed $322.4 million.

"Now, if we as a tiny organisation in the Commonwealth can deliver that scale of contribution, we have to have more ambition for us globally," Scotland said.

(Reporting by Simon Jessop; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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