The 53 member states of the Commonwealth have agreed to renew commitments to the Paris Agreement that would pursue efforts to limit temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels as defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) took place in London and Windsor from 16 to 20 April 2018 during which there were a number of green announcements before arriving at the pledge.  

A declaration was signed during the later stages of the Meeting in London late last week which noted the determination of the member states to push beyond the 2°C target set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement in favour of the more ambitious and necessary target needed to reverse the current climate change impacts.

The members of the CHOGM recognised that increasing temperature, sea level rise and other adverse impacts of climate change are a reality and a significant risk to many of the most vulnerable member countries. Government leaders also expressed their desire to ensure that the framework for the Paris Agreement, including the final roadmap, would be completed at COP24, scheduled to take place in Poland later this year.  In December 2017, representatives from 195 countries gathered to construct a set of rules for the implementation of the Paris Agreement setting out the rules and guidelines which will need to be established by each country in order to finalise the roadmap at COP24.

In addition to the 1.5°C pledge, governments announced the establishment of a Commonwealth Blue Charter, led by the UK and Vanuatu, aimed at protecting global marine ecosystems. The Heads of state identified acidification, biodiversity loss, overfishing, and plastic pollution, in addition to sea level rising, as some of the most extensive pressures on the ocean and called for ambitious, coordinated global action.

Other notable announcements at the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting included the UK Government’s statement committing to review its 2050 emissions target, a discussion led by the Republic of Vanuatu aimed at establishing a global tax on climate damages from fossil fuel polluters and a pledge from Australia to help Pacific Island nations with climate mitigation aid.

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