Globally, the number of climate disasters has tripled since 1980, while, hot weather in 2016 broke the historic record set in 2015. Climate change threatens all nations and peoples regardless of their location or economy. The Commonwealth represents 53 countries many of these are least developed; small or most vulnerable to climate change.
The Commonwealth has long been on the frontline in supporting its small member states through global advocacy on policy level. From the Commonwealth Langkawi Declaration on the Environment in 1989 to the 2015 climate commitment by leaders in Malta, it has intervened to strengthen the voice of small states and unite its members to address this existential threat.
As members of the Commonwealth, small states have an equal voice and influence to raise their concerns for a wider political consideration. It empowers them to take part in international decision-making on issues that affect them directly, especially climate change.
The Commonwealth recognises that climate change poses highly complex challenges to the economies, citizens, food security and ecosystems of small island states. It reverses their progress made towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals of poverty alleviation, economic growth, and social stability.
To address this, the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting facilitated a historic agreement on climate change between member countries. Leaders committed to limit global temperature rise to below 2°C, while, aiming for 1.5°C.
It is critical that the commitment of the leaders enters action in meeting the target of 1.5°C. This will serve as milestone for the success of The Paris Agreement through an integrated global approach to tackle climate change.
Building on this consensus and momentum, the Commonwealth is facilitating its small member states to leverage CHOGM 2018 as a vital platform to draft more concrete measures and actions to address the urgency and intensified risk of climate change.
At a dedicated high-level meeting on small states, leaders and foreign ministers will consider a multi-disciplinary approach to achieving this goal.
Leaders will consider practical targets and solutions in preparation for UN Climate Summit 2019.