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Commonwealth acts for oceans

27 April 2018


The Prime Minister walks with Commonwealth leaders at Windsor Castle last Friday, when officials met to discuss who should succeed the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth

The Prime Minister walks with Commonwealth leaders at Windsor Castle last Friday, when officials met to discuss who should succeed the Queen as Head o...

AFTER the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting last week (News, 20 April), Christian Aid’s senior climate-change adviser, Mohamed Adow, said that it was no surprise that the issue of climate change had featured so prominently in the discussions. Richer nations should, he said, have “greater ambition” to tackle the issue.

Among other outcomes at the meeting was a proposal for a Commonwealth Blue Charter, a co-ordinated initiative to protect the ocean from climate change, pollution, and over-fishing. It includes a joint push by the UK and Vanuatu to take the lead on tackling ocean plastics, incorporating the UK’s £60-million commitment to the Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance.

Nations also committed themselves to limiting global warming to 1.5º, in line with the Paris agreement (News 18 December 2015); but experts warned that current actions did not go far enough to meet this goal.

Mr Adow said that many of the 53 member states were “affected by rising temperatures and rising sea levels. From the Pacific islands to sub-Saharan Africa, the people of the Commonwealth are on the front line of a changing climate.

“Through the G7 and into the UN negotiations in Poland in December, it is vital we see greater ambition from wealthier countries.”

The other issue to dominate proceedings throughout the week was the reported deportation of Windrush-generation migrants (News, 20 April). In her closing remarks, the Prime Minister reassured Caribbean leaders that the UK would help those who had suffered “anxieties and problems”. She said: “The UK will do whatever it takes — including, where appropriate, payment of compensation — to resolve the anxieties and problems that some of the Windrush generation have suffered.”

Leaders of the Commonwealth also agreed last Friday that the Prince of Wales would succeed the Queen as the Head of the Commonwealth. The position is not hereditary, and there was some discussion about whether the position should be rotated through member heads of state.

Before the discussions, which took place at a retreat in Windsor, the Queen declared that it was her “sincere wish” that Prince Charles be chosen as her successor. When pressed at the final media conference about whether there were any dissenting voices on the matter, Mrs May said: “The view was unanimous that Prince Charles should be the next Head of the Commonwealth.”

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