Press release

Christian Aid calls on the UK and Canada to eradicate energy poverty in the Commonwealth

  • Powering Past Coal Alliance leaders currently shirking climate responsibilities
  • Top 5 most vulnerable countries to climate change are all in the Commonwealth
  • UK emits more C02 per person than 18 Commonwealth countries combined. Canada burns even more at 27.

As leaders wrap up the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London this week, Christian Aid has called on the UK and Canada to prove their commitment to the poorest people in the ‘family of nations’ and eradicate energy poverty.

The two countries that launched the Powering Past Coal Alliance have the potential to bring clean power to those without it, ensuring poor countries don’t turn to coal to meet their energy needs.

According to new research by Christian Aid which assessed pledges to the Paris Agreement, the two countries are currently not doing their fair share of the global effort to reduce climate pollution.  Because of their historic emissions and capacity to act, they need to help displace emissions abroad as well as cutting them at home.

To meet their fair share the UK and Canada need to displace 700 and 620 metric tonnes of C02 by 2030 respectively, which equates to 1,730 and 1,530 terawatt hours of electricity.  Combined this more than meets the needed 2,050 terawatt hours needed to wipe out energy poverty in Commonwealth countries.

Christian Aid’s International Climate Lead, Mohamed Adow, who wrote the report Climate inequality in the Commonwealth, said: “The UK and Canada have done great work growing the number of countries promising to end burning coal.  But that is only half the equation. If they really care about the poor they need to help replace this coal power with clean power. 

“Many poor Commonwealth countries have an abundance of potential renewable energy from the wind and sun, but they lack the investment needed to harness it.

“The UK and Canada claim to be climate leaders and yet they are currently shirking their responsibilities. They can reverse this by investing in renewable energy projects which is the best way to ensure their Powering Past Coal Alliance is a success.”

Action on climate change would also have a particular benefit to Commonwealth countries who are the most in danger. The top five most impacted countries in Germanwatch’s latest Climate Risk Index 2017 are all Commonwealth nations: Mozambique, Dominica, Malawi, India and Vanuatu. 

CHOGM was due to be held in Vanuatu but had to be relocated to London because of the damage caused by Cyclone Pam in 2015.

The report shows that while the UK and Canada are underperforming their fair share, poor countries in the Commonwealth are over achieving. Bangladesh, Kenya and Zambia are all in credit, as too are vulnerable island states like Kiribati and Tuvalu.

Mr Adow said: “How can the UK and Canada claim to stand shoulder to shoulder with Pacific islanders when those people face the prospect of being up to their waste in seawater due in part to UK and Canadian carbon emissions?  In fact, the UK burns more carbon dioxide per person than 18 Commonwealth countries combined, and Canada the equivalent of 27.”