THE Commonwealth’s richer countries, including the UK, are failing to tackle climate change at the same level as the bloc’s poorest members, a study by Christian Aid has shown.
The report Climate Inequality in the Commonwealth, published on Monday, assesses each Commonwealth country against the pledges that they made in the Paris climate agreement of 2016, and measures them against national capacity and historic emissions to work out the proportion of the effort they should be making to tackle climate change.
Ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which began on Monday, it said: “Christian Aid’s analysis has found that there is a severe inequality of effort on climate change among the Commonwealth nations.
“Richer countries, such as the UK, Australia, Singapore and Canada, are doing far less than their fair share of the global mitigation that will be needed for the world to reach the Paris temperature target, while the smaller, poorer and more vulnerable Commonwealth members are going the extra mile and actually overachieving on the emissions cuts required of them under the Paris Agreement.”
The five most impacted countries in Germanwatch’s Global Climate Risk Index last year were all Commonwealth countries: Mozambique, Dominica, Malawi, India, and Vanuatu.
The UK burns more carbon dioxide than 18 Commonwealth countries combined, on a per capita basis.
The study’s author, Mohamed Adow, the international climate lead for Christian Aid, said that it exposed the hypocrisy of the Government on climate change: “The UK claims to stand in solidarity with its Commonwealth allies, but when it comes to one of the gravest threats to member nations, it is shirking its responsibilities.
“The UK is proud of the shared values between the ‘family of nations’, but it is not pulling its weight, and instead is leaving the heavy lifting to much poorer countries. For Britain, the host country [of CHOGM], which claims to care for both the climate and the Commonwealth, it risks being embarrassing if it doesn’t step up its game.”
In the report, Mr Adow wrote: “The Commonwealth needs to enhance sustainable development across all its member states, and deliver vital clean, renewable energy to its most vulnerable communities.”
Its recommendations for the UK and the Commonwealth are that more ambitious targets should be set and more action taken on climate change; the switch towards renewable energy across the Commonwealth should be led by the developed nations; and the organisation should be pushing the rest of the world towards meeting the aims of the Paris agreement by 2020.
“Britain has a long history of industrial innovation,” Mr Adow said, “and helping bring light and power to the remotest parts of the world would be an achievement worthy of a nation which claims to be a climate leader. Together, the UK and Canada, which founded the Powering Past Coal Alliance, could eradicate energy poverty across the Commonwealth.”
The report concluded: “The Commonwealth’s responses to climate change run the risk of reinforcing the injustice that makes climate change such a tragic scourge of the world’s poor, and entrenching inequality between people and nations.”