NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) – Commonwealth leaders are expected to call for more climate action at a rally in Rwanda this week ahead of the United Nations climate summit in the seaside town of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt later this year.
“Tackling climate change will require the greatest political, social and economic effort the world has ever seen,” Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said during a meeting on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in the Rwandan capital Kigali. †
Climate change remains a major concern for the bloc. Recent weather and longer term trends, including: heat wavesextreme temperatures, droughts† cyclones† floods and rising sea levelthat most of its Member States are facing.
British Prince Charles, who represents Queen Elizabeth II as the ceremonial head of the Commonwealth, is also expected to advocate for the bloc’s global climate action. Commonwealth leaders are set to adopt the much-anticipated “Living Lands Charter” later this week, an action plan to address climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss.
“The Living Lands Charter is a testament to our commitment. It helps summarize our collective effort to keep the global average temperature increase at 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit),” Scotland said.
According to the charter’s concept note, obtained by The Associated Press, the Commonwealth’s commitments will focus on five key themes: climate-resilient agriculture for food security, soil and water conservation, green cover and biodiversity, climate-resilient livestock farming and climate-resilient development for indigenous peoples. In what is billed as a “five-by-five” approach, it aims to achieve its climate goals through a combination of policy influence, funding, technical assistance, governance and knowledge sharing between countries.
The Commonwealth brings together 54 member states representing a population of 2.5 billion people, most of which were former British colonies. It claims that if the charter is fully adopted and implemented, it will “protect and manage a quarter of the world’s landmass”.
The charter also calls for “increased focus on the inclusion of indigenous peoples” in countries’ voluntary, nationally determined contributions to climate action.
About 32 of the 54 Commonwealth member states are small states, 25 of which are small islands and developing countries classified as vulnerable to climate change. The island nations at the forefront of climate action have already called on the Commonwealth to step up action on oceans.
“The oceans and the climate are inextricably linked, and the health of our oceans determines the livelihoods of millions of people around the world,” said Jitoko Tikolevu, a Fijian diplomat. “Our answer is simple, we need action.”
Associated Press climate and environmental awareness receives support from several private foundations. Read more about AP’s climate initiative here† The AP is solely responsible for all content.