Commonwealth’s 53 Nations Commit to 1.5C Climate Target

The 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London concluded today with a commitment from all 53 member states to limit global warming to below 1.5C.

In a communique signed off from all heads of state, governments “recognised that temperature and sea level rise and other adverse impacts of climate change are a significant reality and risk to many of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable member countries.” 

“They renewed their commitment under the Paris Agreement to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.”

Governments also agreed to “engage with the Fiji and Poland-led Talanoa Dialogue” and “expressed their determination that the Paris Agreement work programme be completed at COP24,” the UN climate summit that will take place in Katowice later this year.

In addition governments agreed to work together to protect global oceans, launching a Commonwealth Blue Charter led by the UK and Vanuatu.

“Heads identified climate change, including sea level rise and acidification, biodiversity loss, overfishing, and plastic pollution as some of the most significant pressures on the ocean, and called for ambitious, coordinated global action.”

Notable announcements included the UK government’s decision to review its 2050 GHG target and embark on the pathway towards becoming a net zero economy, a Vanuatu-led push for a global climate damages tax on fossil fuel polluters and a pledge by Australia to assist Pacific Island nations on aid and climate change.

Post summit reaction:

Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji and President of COP23:

We are pleased the Commonwealth family of nations has reaffirmed its commitment to the Paris Agreement and has embraced the Talanoa Dialogue. We look forward to their support in the year ahead as we work together to raise our ambition to meet the most demanding target of the Paris Agreement, which is to keep the average global temperature increase to within 1.5 degrees above that of the pre-industrial age.

Enele Sopoaga, Tuvalu prime minister

Tuvalu is pleased with the CHOGM Leaders Declaration and Communique, and outcome with a balanced re-focused purpose on common challenges facing the peoples of the Commonwealth, including in particular the existential threat of climate change to the security and survival of peoples of Small Islands Developing States like Tuvalu (SIDS). On all these challenges the Commonwealth must protect and save SIDS like Tuvalu. In sum, we must save Tuvalu to save the world.

Mohamed Adow, climate lead, Christian Aid

It is no surprise that the issue of climate change featured highly this week with so many member states 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.

“Christian Aid’s analysis has shown that it is the richer Commonwealth countries that are currently underachieving their fair share of the global effort while their poorer allies are far ahead.

The report Climate inequality in the Commonwealth shows that the UK, Canada and Australia are lagging behind while the likes of Kenya, Zambia and Bangladesh are in credit.

“The UK is waking up to this reality and announced it would seek advice on a net zero emissions target later this year.  But other countries like Australia have shamefully hampered progress. They need to get in line or get out of the way. If these rich countries really do care about the ‘family of nations’ they should start by stepping up their game and showing climate leadership in 2018.”

Notes for editors:

A summary of CHOGM 2018 announcements can be found here: https://medium.com/@edking_CH/climate-and-commonwealth-london-2018-headlines-37a3849787e

The official communique and press releases can be found here:

http://thecommonwealth.org/media/news/commonwealth-heads-government-meeting-communiqué-“towards-common-future” [link will only work if you cut and paste into browser]