Commonwealth countries unify voices ahead of Paris climate talks

Valletta (Malta), Nov 29 (IANS) The leaders of Commonwealth countries unified their voices on climate action on Saturday, ahead of the Paris talks on climate change.

The leaders at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) committed to working towards for an ambitious, equitable, inclusive climate change agreement in Paris, said a joint statement.

The Commonwealth is made up of 53 independent countries with a combined population of 2.2 billion. The association includes countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, the Pacific and the Caribbean and Americas. Over half of its 53 member states are least-developed countries, small island developing states or both, Xinhua news agency reported.

“We are deeply concerned about the threat posed by climate change, which continues to grow and to put at risk the economic, social, environmental, and cultural well-being of our member states and citizens.

“Many of our most vulnerable states and communities are already facing the adverse impacts of climate change, which can roll back decades of development gains,” the statement said.

Commonwealth countries agreed to abide by the target to hold the increase in global average temperature below 2 degrees Celsius or 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

The statement said that Commonwealth countries expected the outcome at the Paris summit will stimulate sustainable economic growth, give a clear signal of the need for deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions and support vulnerable states.

Meanwhile, developed Commonwealth countries reaffirmed their commitment to play their part in mobilising the $100 billion every year by 2020 to address the adaptation and mitigation needs of developing countries.

“Forty seven of the 53 Commonwealth nations have already declared their intended nationally determined contributions, in other words the concrete actions they will take to address climate change,” outgoing Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said at a press conference held in the city St Julians, Malta.

He said the statement shows a real commitment in the Commonwealth to address climate change challenges.

“We are very proud of this achievement and the fact that diverse nations with different perspectives were able to come together and speak with one voice on this issue which is so critical to our survival,” he added.

However, the statement showed that an unnamed country expressed reservations on parts of the commitments and ambitions.

As the last rehearsal for the Paris climate conference, known as COP21, this confirmed the difficulty of brokering a meaningful agreement in Paris.

From November 30 to December 11, France is going to host a climate summit under the banner of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a 195-nation forum which is widely expected to result in a global and binding agreement on tackling climate change.

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