Britain should do more for Commonwealth countries on climate change, says Christian Aid

ReutersBritain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at a Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting business forum in London, April 16, 2018.

A report by development charity Christian Aid has found that the Commonwealth's richer nations are doing less than poorer ones to address climate change.

Released at the start of the Commonwealth Heads of Government meetings this week, the study, Climate inequality in the Commonwealth, assesses the pledges to the Paris Agreement of each Commonwealth country and measures them against national capacity and historic emissions (since 1990) to calculate their fair proportion of the effort to address climate change.

The results show that the UK, Canada and Australia are in the red while poorer countries like Bangladesh, Kenya and Zambia are in credit. Small island states vulnerable to sea level rise like Kiribati, Vanuatu and Tuvalu are also more than doing their fair share.

The top five most impacted countries in Germanwatch's latest Climate Risk Index 2017 are all Commonwealth nations: Mozambique, Dominica, Malawi, India and Vanuatu.

Report author, Mohamed Adow, Christian Aid's international climate lead, said: '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, which claims to care for both the climate and the Commonwealth, it risks being embarrassing if it doesn't step up its game.'

On a per capita basis the UK burns more carbon dioxide than 18 Commonwealth countries combined.

According to Christian Aid, because of its relative wealth and the fact its emissions since 1990 are so high, the UK needs to displace emissions elsewhere as well as cutting its own emissions. The charity says it should invest in renewables in poorer Commonwealth countries.

Adow said: 'Britain has a long history of industrial innovation 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.'

He added: 'As the UK readies itself for departing the EU there has been much talk about the importance of trade and other collaboration within the Commonwealth. What better way of boosting the fortunes of its future trading partners by tackling climate change and bringing power to those that need it?'