The Parliamentarian 2021 Issue Three: Looking ahead to COP26: key challenges facing the Commonwealth

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SPECIAL REPORT: LOOKING AHEAD TO COP26: CLIMATE CHANGE IN THE COMMONWEALTH

where our main emissions come from. We know our societies and the economies that support them. Collectively we must be honest about the inequalities faced and be courageous in supporting economies that share the threat but not the financial clout to address it. Technological developments must be supported and shared. Small islands can act as model economies that are future-proofed and carbon negative. Just like Bhutan. And just as with raising the issues initially, we can lead the way for larger countries to adopt these models for their towns and cities. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Climate Change Working Group is one voice in the cacophony of groups concerned with climate. But we have voices from across the planet, from huge countries to tiny islands. And sharing ideas and exerting political pressure is vital and has an urgency that has never been so clear. I want this group to be a voice for those small islands that will be massively impacted by climate change. We have a moral responsibility to act as much as the large polluters and the time to do so is now. COP26 is looming. Will it be another summit with declarations not worth quoting in future pieces written on climate change? Or will we see genuine action taken with the urgency needed? There is a native American proverb that states “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” It seems that we have borrowed the earth and proceeded to trash it. So, like the responsible member of the family that realises the parents are returning home and the house is in chaos, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get on with sorting the mess.

St Brelade's Bay, Jersey.

252 | The Parliamentarian | 2021: Issue Three | 100 years of publishing

One of the most reassuring parts of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Climate Change Working Group is the involvement of young people from the Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Network. Listening to their voices and determination to make change gives me hope. The energy of youth is infectious and much appreciated. I am a parent and was a teacher before I was elected. I spent my career encouraging young people to look to the future and be successful in whatever way they wanted. I have children who are now in their twenties and looking ahead. It is for them that I continue to work. My generation is guilty of reckless exploitation of our planet. It is time to change this – one small island at a time if needs be. Or, as one young Swedish woman who has been so influential so succinctly stated. “The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say – we will never forgive you.” We sit on the Commonwealth Parliamentary Climate Change Working Group as Parliamentarians. We must take our voices back to our Parliaments and pressure for action. We will look to do exactly this at COP26 so that the summit is more than just words and that small islands worldwide have a future. It is certainly one worth fighting for.

References: 1 Proposition P27 declaring a climate change emergency. See https://statesassembly. gov.je 2 Report of the Jersey Climate Change Citizens’ Assembly. See https://statesassembly. gov.je/assemblyreports/2021/r.95-2021.pdf