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Taking urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

SDG 13 / Target 13.1: Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related disasters

Trend analysis of the official SDG data using the SDG Data Explorer Tool created by the Commonwealth Secretariat shows that the Commonwealth country worst affected by climate-related disasters, as a proportion of the total population, is currently Malawi where 36,317 per 100,000 people were so affected, according to the data for 2019. The Commonwealth country that has suffered the most over the reported period is Fiji. Based on the data that is available for 41 countries, the Commonwealth median for persons directly affected by disasters has worsened steadily from 73 per 100,000 in 2005 to 339 per 100,000 in 2019. Disasters, as defined by the United Nations, includes all manner of events from earthquakes and storms to epidemics.

Early estimates show that, due to COVID-19, CO2 emissions fell by around 5% in 2020. But this was the result of pandemic-induced measures and restrictions that locked down economic sectors and significantly reduced global economic activity.

In the broader context, new data released from the Global Carbon Project, shows the long run trend. While GDP per capita has nearly tripled since 1960 across the Commonwealth, CO2 emissions has seen a fivefold increase during the same period.

More than half of this increase has occurred during the last three decades, after the first historic Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report was published in 1990.

Today, the Commonwealth’s top three emitters – India, Canada and South Africa – account for more than two-thirds of the Commonwealth’s CO2 emissions.

Rankings have change dramatically over time and top emitters include both developed and developing countries alike.

Natural disasters have increased in frequency in Commonwealth countries

Source: EM-DAT: The Emergency Events Database – Université catholique de Louvain (UCL) – CRED – Brussels – Belgium

Natural disasters have increased in frequency in Commonwealth countries. Countries are at risk from changes in climate patterns and have witnessed increased frequency of natural disasters. Moreover, greater number of people are affected today than ever before.

Historical Comparison of Frequency of Natural Disasters between Commonwealth Regions

Natural disasters include droughts, earthquakes, flood, storms and wildfires.