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Commonwealth advances momentum for climate deal

Commonwealth nations throw their weight behind efforts to clinch an "operationally binding" UN climate deal in Copenhagen next month.

PORT OF SPAIN // Commonwealth nations representing one-third of the world's population threw their weight on Saturday behind accelerating efforts to clinch an "operationally binding" UN climate deal in Copenhagen next month. Leaders of the 53-nation Commonwealth meeting in Trinidad and Tobago used their summit to bolster a diplomatic offensive seeking wide consensus on how to fight global warming before Dec 7-18 UN climate talks in the Danish capital.

"The clock is ticking to Copenhagen ... we believe that the political goodwill and resolve exists to secure a comprehensive agreement at Copenhagen," the Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd told a news conference in Port of Spain. The Commonwealth Climate Change Declaration pledged the group's backing for the Danish prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen in his efforts to secure wide attendance and commitment from world leaders at the Copenhagen climate talks.

"We pledge our continued support to the leaders-driven process ... to deliver a comprehensive, substantial and operationally binding agreement in Copenhagen leading towards a full legally binding outcome no later than 2010," the Port of Spain declaration said. Tackling the thorny issue of funding for poor nations' efforts to fight climate change and global warming, developed countries in the Commonwealth led by Britain backed an initiative to establish a Copenhagen Launch Fund, starting in 2010 and building to $10 billion (Dh36.73bn) annually by 2012.

Reflecting debate that has dogged the road to Copenhagen, developing states said much more money needed to be committed by rich nations to help poorer countries counter global warming and adapt to the pollution-reducing requirements of a climate deal. "Right now, there is no commitment of the magnitude that is required. ... We need close to 1 per cent of global GDP, $300 billion, to address this problem," Guyana's president, Bharrat Jagdeo, who heads the economic task force of the 15-nation Caribbean Community, or Caricom, told reporters. Mr Jagdeo welcomed what he called the $10 billion offer of "interim financing."

*Reuters

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