Commonwealth heads call for climate action at Rwanda meeting

FILE - Alwande Ndlovu, stands where a neighbor's house once stood, after heavy rains caused flood damage in Umgababa, near Durban, South Africa, April 19, 2022. Commonwealth leaders are set to adopt the much-awaited “Living Lands Charter”, an action plan to address climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss. Recent weather events and longer term climate trends, including heatwaves, extreme temperatures, drought, cyclones, floods and sea-level rise, afflict most of its member states. (AP Photo, File)

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FILE - Alwande Ndlovu, stands where a neighbor's house once stood, after heavy rains caused flood damage in Umgababa, near Durban, South Africa, April 19, 2022. Commonwealth leaders are set to adopt the much-awaited “Living Lands Charter”, an action plan to address climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss. Recent weather events and longer term climate trends, including heatwaves, extreme temperatures, drought, cyclones, floods and sea-level rise, afflict most of its member states. (AP Photo, File)

Leaders of Commonwealth nations are calling for increased climate action at a meeting in Rwanda this week, ahead of the United Nations climate change summit in the seaside resort of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt later this year

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — Leaders of Commonwealth nations are calling for increased climate action at a meeting in Rwanda this week, ahead of the United Nations climate change summit in the seaside resort of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt later this year.

Climate change is a major concern for the 54-nation bloc that includes small island countries facing growing threats amid global warming. Recent weather events and longer climate term trends, including heat waves, extreme temperatures, droughts, cyclones, floods and rising sea levels, afflict most of the Commonwealth's member states.

Alok Sharma, a British official who led last year's U.N. climate talks in Scotland, urged member countries Thursday to focus on implementing emission reduction targets set for 2030.

“What it needs, friends, is for us to focus on implementation, and every country must respond to the Glasgow climate pact,” Sharma said, speaking at a business forum on the margins of the Commonwealth summit in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.

Commonwealth governments must submit their emission reduction targets by Sept. 23, he said, “including their long-term strategies.”

Sharma noted that for island nations such as Barbados “the situation is devastatingly clear,” and tackling climate change “is the difference between life and death.”

Britain’s Prince Charles, representing Queen Elizabeth II as the ceremonial head of the Commonwealth, is expected to champion the bloc’s global climate action.

Commonwealth leaders are set to adopt the much-awaited “Living Lands Charter” later this week, an action plan to address climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss.

Speaking at another meeting on the side of the summit, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said that responding to climate change requires “the most significant political, social and economic effort that the world has ever seen.”

The Commonwealth's Living Lands Charter, she said, “is a testament to our commitment. It helps to encapsulate our combined effort to hold the global average temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 Fahrenheit).”

According to the charter’s concept note, obtained by The Associated Press, the Commonwealth's commitments will focus on five main themes: climate-resilient agriculture for food security, soil and water conservation, green cover and biodiversity, climate-resilient livestock rearing, and climate-resilient development for indigenous people. In what's billed as a “five-by-five” approach, it aims to achieve its climate goals through a mixture of policy influence, financing, technical assistance, governance and sharing knowledge across nations.

The Commonwealth brings together states representing a combined population of 2.5 billion people, most of which are former British colonies. It claims that if the charter is endorsed and implemented in full, it will “protect and manage a quarter of the world’s landmass.”

The charter is also calling for “greater consideration on inclusion of indigenous peoples” in countries' voluntary, nationally determined contributions on climate action.

Some 32 of the Commonwealth’s member nations are small states, with 25 of them being small islands and developing states classified as vulnerable to climate change.

The island states at the forefront of climate action have already called on the Commonwealth to strengthen measures on oceans.

“The oceans and climate are inextricably interconnected, and the health of our oceans dictates the livelihoods of millions of people around the world," said Jitoko Tikolevu, a Fijian diplomat. "Our answer is simple, we need action.”

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Kabukuru reported from Nairobi, Kenya. Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP's climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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FILE - Homeless people sleep in the shade of a bridge on a hot day in New Delhi, Friday, May 20, 2022. Commonwealth leaders are set to adopt the much-awaited “Living Lands Charter”, an action plan to address climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss. Recent weather events and longer term climate trends, including heatwaves, extreme temperatures, drought, cyclones, floods and sea-level rise, afflict most of its member states. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup, File)

Credit: Manish Swarup

FILE - Homeless people sleep in the shade of a bridge on a hot day in New Delhi, Friday, May 20, 2022.  Commonwealth leaders are set to adopt the much-awaited “Living Lands Charter”, an action plan to address climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss. Recent weather events and longer term climate trends, including heatwaves, extreme temperatures, drought, cyclones, floods and sea-level rise, afflict most of its member states. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup, File)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Combined ShapeCaption
FILE - Homeless people sleep in the shade of a bridge on a hot day in New Delhi, Friday, May 20, 2022. Commonwealth leaders are set to adopt the much-awaited “Living Lands Charter”, an action plan to address climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss. Recent weather events and longer term climate trends, including heatwaves, extreme temperatures, drought, cyclones, floods and sea-level rise, afflict most of its member states. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup, File)

Credit: Manish Swarup

Credit: Manish Swarup

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FILE - A couple visit the sea caves at sunset, in the southern coastal resort of Ayia Napa in southeast Mediterranean island of Cyprus, May 29, 2022. Commonwealth leaders are set to adopt the much-awaited “Living Lands Charter”, an action plan to address climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss. The island states at the forefront of climate action have already called on the Commonwealth to strengthen action on oceans. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, File)

Credit: Petros Karadjias

FILE - A couple visit the sea caves at sunset, in the southern coastal resort of Ayia Napa in southeast Mediterranean island of Cyprus, May 29, 2022. Commonwealth leaders are set to adopt the much-awaited “Living Lands Charter”, an action plan to address climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss. The island states at the forefront of climate action have already called on the Commonwealth to strengthen action on oceans. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, File)

Credit: Petros Karadjias

Combined ShapeCaption
FILE - A couple visit the sea caves at sunset, in the southern coastal resort of Ayia Napa in southeast Mediterranean island of Cyprus, May 29, 2022. Commonwealth leaders are set to adopt the much-awaited “Living Lands Charter”, an action plan to address climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss. The island states at the forefront of climate action have already called on the Commonwealth to strengthen action on oceans. (AP Photo/Petros Karadjias, File)

Credit: Petros Karadjias

Credit: Petros Karadjias

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Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, center, speaks at the meeting "Keeping 1.5 Alive: The Glasgow Climate Pact and Building Momentum towards COP27", accompanied by Rwanda's Minister of Environment Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya, right, and prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Alfonso Browne, left, at the Commonwealth Summit in Kigali, Rwanda Thursday, June 23, 2022. Leaders of Commonwealth nations called for increased climate action, ahead of the United Nations climate change summit in the seaside resort of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt later this year. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, center, speaks at the meeting "Keeping 1.5 Alive: The Glasgow Climate Pact and Building Momentum towards COP27", accompanied by Rwanda's Minister of Environment Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya, right, and prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Alfonso Browne, left, at the Commonwealth Summit in Kigali, Rwanda Thursday, June 23, 2022. Leaders of Commonwealth nations called for increased climate action, ahead of the United Nations climate change summit in the seaside resort of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt later this year. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Combined ShapeCaption
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, center, speaks at the meeting "Keeping 1.5 Alive: The Glasgow Climate Pact and Building Momentum towards COP27", accompanied by Rwanda's Minister of Environment Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya, right, and prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Alfonso Browne, left, at the Commonwealth Summit in Kigali, Rwanda Thursday, June 23, 2022. Leaders of Commonwealth nations called for increased climate action, ahead of the United Nations climate change summit in the seaside resort of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt later this year. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Combined ShapeCaption
Britain's Prince Charles, accompanied by Rwanda's Minister of Environment Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya, second right, visits the Umusambi Village restored wetland area, which is home to endangered Grey Crowned Cranes saved from the illegal pet trade, in Rwanda Thursday, June 23, 2022. Prince Charles is the first British royal to visit Rwanda, representing Queen Elizabeth II as the ceremonial head of the Commonwealth at a summit where both the 54-nation bloc and the monarchy face uncertainty. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Britain's Prince Charles, accompanied by Rwanda's Minister of Environment Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya, second right, visits the Umusambi Village restored wetland area, which is home to endangered Grey Crowned Cranes saved from the illegal pet trade, in Rwanda Thursday, June 23, 2022. Prince Charles is the first British royal to visit Rwanda, representing Queen Elizabeth II as the ceremonial head of the Commonwealth at a summit where both the 54-nation bloc and the monarchy face uncertainty. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Combined ShapeCaption
Britain's Prince Charles, accompanied by Rwanda's Minister of Environment Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya, second right, visits the Umusambi Village restored wetland area, which is home to endangered Grey Crowned Cranes saved from the illegal pet trade, in Rwanda Thursday, June 23, 2022. Prince Charles is the first British royal to visit Rwanda, representing Queen Elizabeth II as the ceremonial head of the Commonwealth at a summit where both the 54-nation bloc and the monarchy face uncertainty. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Combined ShapeCaption
Britain's Prince Charles, center, accompanied by Rwanda's Minister of Environment Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya, second left, visits the Umusambi Village restored wetland area, which is home to endangered Grey Crowned Cranes saved from the illegal pet trade, in Rwanda Thursday, June 23, 2022. Prince Charles is the first British royal to visit Rwanda, representing Queen Elizabeth II as the ceremonial head of the Commonwealth at a summit where both the 54-nation bloc and the monarchy face uncertainty. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Britain's Prince Charles, center, accompanied by Rwanda's Minister of Environment Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya, second left, visits the Umusambi Village restored wetland area, which is home to endangered Grey Crowned Cranes saved from the illegal pet trade, in Rwanda Thursday, June 23, 2022. Prince Charles is the first British royal to visit Rwanda, representing Queen Elizabeth II as the ceremonial head of the Commonwealth at a summit where both the 54-nation bloc and the monarchy face uncertainty. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Combined ShapeCaption
Britain's Prince Charles, center, accompanied by Rwanda's Minister of Environment Jeanne d'Arc Mujawamariya, second left, visits the Umusambi Village restored wetland area, which is home to endangered Grey Crowned Cranes saved from the illegal pet trade, in Rwanda Thursday, June 23, 2022. Prince Charles is the first British royal to visit Rwanda, representing Queen Elizabeth II as the ceremonial head of the Commonwealth at a summit where both the 54-nation bloc and the monarchy face uncertainty. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Combined ShapeCaption
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at the meeting "Keeping 1.5 Alive: The Glasgow Climate Pact and Building Momentum towards COP27", at the Commonwealth Summit in Kigali, Rwanda Thursday, June 23, 2022. Leaders of Commonwealth nations called for increased climate action, ahead of the United Nations climate change summit in the seaside resort of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt later this year. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at the meeting "Keeping 1.5 Alive: The Glasgow Climate Pact and Building Momentum towards COP27", at the Commonwealth Summit in Kigali, Rwanda Thursday, June 23, 2022. Leaders of Commonwealth nations called for increased climate action, ahead of the United Nations climate change summit in the seaside resort of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt later this year. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Combined ShapeCaption
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks at the meeting "Keeping 1.5 Alive: The Glasgow Climate Pact and Building Momentum towards COP27", at the Commonwealth Summit in Kigali, Rwanda Thursday, June 23, 2022. Leaders of Commonwealth nations called for increased climate action, ahead of the United Nations climate change summit in the seaside resort of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt later this year. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Combined ShapeCaption
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends the meeting "Keeping 1.5 Alive: The Glasgow Climate Pact and Building Momentum towards COP27", at the Commonwealth Summit in Kigali, Rwanda Thursday, June 23, 2022. Leaders of Commonwealth nations called for increased climate action, ahead of the United Nations climate change summit in the seaside resort of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt later this year. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends the meeting "Keeping 1.5 Alive: The Glasgow Climate Pact and Building Momentum towards COP27", at the Commonwealth Summit in Kigali, Rwanda Thursday, June 23, 2022. Leaders of Commonwealth nations called for increased climate action, ahead of the United Nations climate change summit in the seaside resort of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt later this year. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Combined ShapeCaption
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau attends the meeting "Keeping 1.5 Alive: The Glasgow Climate Pact and Building Momentum towards COP27", at the Commonwealth Summit in Kigali, Rwanda Thursday, June 23, 2022. Leaders of Commonwealth nations called for increased climate action, ahead of the United Nations climate change summit in the seaside resort of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt later this year. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Combined ShapeCaption
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, center, attends the meeting "Keeping 1.5 Alive: The Glasgow Climate Pact and Building Momentum towards COP27", at the Commonwealth Summit in Kigali, Rwanda Thursday, June 23, 2022. Leaders of Commonwealth nations called for increased climate action, ahead of the United Nations climate change summit in the seaside resort of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt later this year. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, center, attends the meeting "Keeping 1.5 Alive: The Glasgow Climate Pact and Building Momentum towards COP27", at the Commonwealth Summit in Kigali, Rwanda Thursday, June 23, 2022. Leaders of Commonwealth nations called for increased climate action, ahead of the United Nations climate change summit in the seaside resort of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt later this year. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Combined ShapeCaption
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, center, attends the meeting "Keeping 1.5 Alive: The Glasgow Climate Pact and Building Momentum towards COP27", at the Commonwealth Summit in Kigali, Rwanda Thursday, June 23, 2022. Leaders of Commonwealth nations called for increased climate action, ahead of the United Nations climate change summit in the seaside resort of Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt later this year. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)

Credit: Muhizi Olivier

Credit: Muhizi Olivier