Australia, Britain and Canada commit to climate change action at Commonwealth summit

27 November 2015

Commonwealth countries pledge billions of pounds to climate action in a special session at the Commonwealth summit.

Commonwealth countries have pledged billions to climate action at a special session on climate change at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).

Canada has promised $2.65 billion over five years to help developing countries cope with climate change.

 “Canada is back and ready to play its part in combatting climate change, and this includes helping the poorest and most vulnerable countries in the world adapt. The investment announced today will help build a more environmentally sustainable future for generations to come,” said the Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada in a statement today.

The UK has committed £21 million for disaster management and £5.5 million for the ocean-based economy. Australia has committed $1 million for a new Commonwealth idea: a Climate Finance Access Hub.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said the new pledges would help some of the most vulnerable countries in the Commonwealth. “Thirty one of our 53 members are small states and 25 are small island developing states, which are most vulnerable to Climate change.

“Many of our members are struggling to cope with the devastating effects of climate change. Islands in the in the Pacific and the Caribbean are having to deal with rising sea levels that could drive them from their homelands, and an onslaught of increased violent storms that is hampering their development.”

The Commonwealth has proposed a novel way to stimulate climate action: trading debt relief for fresh activities to limit carbon emissions or address climate change. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon supported the idea during the special session today. He encouraged heads of government to raise their level of ambition on climate change, and warned that failure to act now will “ruin” internationally agreed sustainable development goals.

French President Francois Hollande was a guest at the Special Session.  At its start, Commonwealth leaders held a minute of silence to commemorate the people who lost their lives in the recent terrorist attacks in Paris. 

Speaking at a press conference just after the session, Mr Hollande urged leaders to “face our responsibility” and “reach an overall agreement on climate change.” 

“Man is the worst enemy of man,” he said.

“We can say it with terrorism, but we can say the same when it comes to climate. Human beings are betraying nature, damaging the environment. It is therefore up to human beings to face up to their responsibilities,” Mr Hollande added.

“It’s a duty for mankind to be able, in the days to come, to reach an agreement, a binding agreement, a universal agreement and one that is ambitious.”

Mr Hollande is hosting the COP21 Climate Change Summit next week in Paris, which will bring leaders together from around the world in an attempt to reach a new climate accord.

Information on the Commonwealth CHOGM Image Library Commonwealth summit