Climate Change &the Survival Of Small Countries


Media briefing held on 16th April on 2018 London’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit raised the question aboutthe importance of implementing policies on Net Zero Emission of Carbon pollution and the ability of small countries to survive the Climate Change.

Small islands have been identified as a vulnerable landmass for climate changes and rapid temperature rises in the surrounding oceans. Abnormal temperature rises increases national disasters such as tropical storms, landslides, floods and creates many chronic climatic issues. Ultimately these climate changes impact on country’s economy and development, leaving multiple generations helpless.

Mohamed Adow from Christian Aid, Global Climate Policy Lead highlighted that Mozambique, Dominica, Malawi, India, and Vanuatu are on top of the list of most impacted countries with climate changes and all belong to Commonwealth. This exposure intended to create pressure on developed governments such as UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand which are in the Commonwealth, to step up to action the policies on climate changes.

‘United Nations has ranked Vanuatu as the number 1 disaster prone country in the world’ Says Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister, His Excellency Ralph Regenvanu. Bringing examples from his country, he emphasized the economic impact small island countries like Vanuatu faces due to severe climatic changes. According to him, the Category 5 tropical storm that hit Vanuatu in March 2015, still shadowing the country’s economy as the estimated damage is about 70% of country’s GDP.

Small island countries like Sri Lanka, Malawi, Fiji, Vanuatu, Bahamas heavily depends on Tourism and Agriculture. Climatic disasters create a negative tourist attraction to these destinations hence, impact many lives rest on tourism industry. Sudden weather condition changes have an impact on crops and when the conditions like droughts occurs it could destroy a complete agricultural farming chain.

These small countries contribute a very small percentage to global carbon emission, yet, experiences the biggest impact from it. Large countries like UK, Australia, Canada are in power to action Carbon emission protocols, however, it seems like even current commitments are not going to be big enough to stop the damage by end of the century.

The writer believes that it is time for Sri Lanka also to think about the impact of climate changes in governmental level. Every year, Sri Lanka, suffers from severe floods and followed by a serious of dangerous landslides. Usually this occurs around May and June and currently we are approaching that period for this year. Severe Dengue epidemic would usually come right after the end of monsoons. Floods, Landslides and Dengue has become a seasonal disaster in Sri Lanka, yet the governments from various political parties play deaf.

Small countries need to face a double challenge due to climate changes. One is to protect the country from disasters. As the Foreign Minister from Vanuatu says, “If there’s one thing we are championing, that is being the champions of disasters”. Second challenge is to convince and pressurize the governments in developed countries to take effective action to practice various policies on global warming and climate changes. Summits such as Commonwealth Heads of Government are ideal moments to create a combined influence on such stronger economies.

It is important to act together to benefit together. Because for mother Earth, we all are just one more species.