Climate Change & The Environment

Climate change is having a catastrophic impact on the most world’s most vulnerable countries, especially small states - and over half of Commonwealth countries are least-developed countries, small island developing states (SIDS) or both.

As such, Commonwealth nations are deeply concerned about the threat posed by climate change, which continues to grow and to put at risk the economic, social, environmental, and cultural well-being of their citizens. The adverse impacts of climate change are rolling back decades of development gains in some of the most vulnerable states and the consequences of climate change can be a national catastrophe, requiring urgent responses and significant support.

The Commonwealth has long been at the forefront of global action on climate change, and it represents more than one quarter of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The Paris Climate Change Conference (COP21) agreement to limit global emissions well below 2 degrees Celsius, with an aspiration of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels has been hailed as a ‘breakthrough’ - and the ‘world’s greatest diplomatic success’. Commonwealth members are now mobilising global and national efforts to hold the increase in global average temperature, to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and to achieve sustainable economic and technological transformation, both in mitigation and adaptation. The 2015 CHOGM also saw developed Commonwealth countries reaffirm their commitment to help mobilise US$100 billion annually by 2020 to address the adaptation and mitigation needs of developing countries.

Commonwealth Business Communications is keen to support the Commonwealth in promoting practical and policy solutions to tackle the complex problem of climate change.

Other key environmental areas for the Commonwealth include the marine environment, forestry and sustainable consumption and production.

The marine environment is of vast importance due to its role in food security, in coastal employment and livelihoods, global biodiversity and the regulation of the global climate. The science is irrefutably clear that our natural capital, in the form of marine resources and biodiversity, is dwindling as a result of over-exploitation of wild fisheries and destructive or illegal fishing practices, not to mention coastal development in critical habitats and increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and in the ocean itself. Given its makeup, the Commonwealth is an important group of countries in terms of its ability to show global leadership in effecting the transition to a sustainable blue economy while maintaining ocean health and ecological functionality as the foundation of growth and prosperity.

The need for responsible management of the planet’s natural resources has never been more apparent, urgent or within reach, believes Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme. Policy-makers, including those within the Commonwealth, have a unique opportunity to catalyse changes in consumption and production patterns that can bring in a new era of a more equitable and sustainable development. The Commonwealth can play a significant role in guiding the world towards more sustainable consumption and production.

Did you know?

  • Many small and developing Commonwealth countries are among those with the lowest ecological footprints worldwide.

  • Between 1900 and 2009, the extraction of resources climbed from 7 billion tonnes to 68 billion tonnes. Now it is set to double in just one-third of that time, with predictions it will reach 140 billion tonnes by 2050.