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UK and Commonwealth throw weight behind climate talks at Commonwealth summit


Army.ca Fixture
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According to other sources such as CBC, Canada has been criticized by other Commonwealth members for inaction on climate change. And then you have the usual rallies from groups like the UK's branch of Greenpeace calling for Canada to be kicked out of the Commonwealth for such things as the Alberta oil sands.


Commonwealth leaders representing two billion people on Saturday threw their combined weight behind upcoming climate talks, driving momentum towards a new carbon-cutting treaty.

"We, as the Commonwealth, representing one third of the world's population, believe the time for action on climate change has come," Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said as he unveiled an agreement struck at a summit in Trinidad.

The Port of Spain Climate Change Consensus, backed by all 53 member states of the Commonwealth, supports the December 7-18 climate talks in Copenhagen and commits to seeking a legally binding treaty in 2010 that would set targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions.

It also upheld the adoption of clean energy, a carbon-credits trading scheme and the need for wealthier countries to pay developing nations to help them bear the economic costs of implementing environmentally friendly policies.

Related article: Success in sight

The statement was another boost for the Copenhagen talks, which only recently had been forecast to fail by several officials.

In the past two weeks though, major polluters the United States, China and Brazil have all come forward with numerical carbon-reducing goals to be presented at the talks.

India, the only major nation yet to provide a target, said it was also preparing figures.

High-profile leaders, including US President Barack Obama, have also said they would travel to Copenhagen.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen, who will host the talks, said: "I remain fully convinced that it will be possible to reach an agreement in Copenhagen." At least 90 leaders will be attending.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, too, hailed the "momentum for success."

But he cautioned work still had to be done to seal an accord.

"We are united in purpose, we are not yet united in action," he said, urging world leaders "to stay focused, stay committed and come to Copenhagen."

The Commonwealth consensus statement hailed an initial 10-billion-dollar-a-year fund that from 2010 would help pay "vulnerable countries," notably small island states, to sign on to a climate treaty. It would also help slow deforestation and finance technology transfer.

The fund was advocated at the summit by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who pledged 1.3 billion dollars to it over the next three years, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who was there as a special guest at Brown's invitation.

Rudd said the Commonwealth climate change statement was "one further significant step... and we believe the political goodwill and resolve exists to secure a comprehensive agreement at Copenhagen."

The foundations were coming together to achieve a "comprehensive, substantial and operationally-binding agreement" in the Copenhagen talks, he said.

Commonwealth summit host Prime Minister Patrick Manning of Trinidad and Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma emphasized that the diversity of the Commonwealth -- whose members count rich nations Britain and Canada as well as small states such as the Maldives -- was valuable in closing differences ahead of Copenhagen.

"The Commonwealth's strength is the quality of voice it gives to everyone," Sharma said.

The consensus text, however, showed some divergences remained, notably on whether global temperature increases should be constrained to below 1.5 degrees Celsius (34.7 degrees Fahrenheit) or to no more than two degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Such a range could mean the difference between survival and catastrophe for low-lying island states threatened by flooding from global warming.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Saturday that his country's carbon emission cut targets, when unveiled, would be "ambitious," though conditional on other countries also taking up the burden.

India and other major developing countries such as Brazil contend that rich countries are historically responsible for global warming and thus should fund emission cuts in poorer nations.


Sr. Member
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And, amongst a bunch of rabble rousers considering trying to get Canada booted from the Commonwealth, we now have this:

Rwanda joins the Commonwealth

The small central African country applied last year to join the group of 54 nations, all of which - aside from Mozambique - have historic links to Britain dating back to the colonial era.

Rwanda's President Paul Kagame has lobbied hard for his country to join the Commonwealth as part of a policy of moving towards the Anglophone world and away from the influence of France.

Rwanda was both a Belgian and French colony, but Mr Kagame has a long-running dispute with Paris over its alleged complicity in the 1994 genocide, which only ended when Mr Kagame's rebel army took control of the country.

"My government sees this accession as recognition of the tremendous progress this country has made in the last 15 years," said Louise Mushikiwabo, Rwanda's information minister, after Sunday's announcement at the Commonwealth heads of government meeting in Trinidad and Tobago.

"Rwandans are ready to seize economic, political, cultural and other opportunities offered by the Commonwealth network."

Following the announcement, France and Rwanda agreed to re-open diplomatic relations, a spokesman for France's President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Sunday.

More at the link.