?Trinidad and Tobago's Commonwealth leaders' meeting has wrought consensus on a Commonwealth climate change declaration, whose key element involves immediate funding from next year for small island states affected. The Port-of-Spain Climate Change Consensus–among the first significant strides so far made by leaders at this Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)–is expected to facilitate a successful outcome of next month's crucial United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. The declaration was announced yesterday by conference chairman, Prime Minister Patrick Manning, during a media briefing at the International Financial Centre (IFC).
Manning, who piloted the Commonwealth declaration process, will be among the 90 world leaders who will discuss the crucial climate change issue in Copenhagen in a few weeks. During yesterday's briefing, Manning was flanked by Prime Minister of Denmark Lars Lokke Rassmussen–host of the upcoming Copenhagen conference, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma. The climate change issue was discussed during a special session on Friday, immediately as they got down to agenda business of the three-day CHOGM. Manning said T&T's CHOGM was always recognised as a potential opportunity to add value to the negotiating process for the United Nations Copenhagen conference on climate change and formulation of a legally-binding agreement at that upcoming meeting.
Ban Ki Moon and Rassmussen, who were very concerned about the way the issue had been going, as well as French Prime Minister Nicolas Sarkozy were, therefore, invited to the CHOGM. Manning added: "I'm very pleased to say the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting here in Port-of-Spain, after deliberating with our invited colleagues, have come to a conclusion on this matter. "We have always known the diversity of the Commonwealth providing us with a particular opportunity, comprising, as it does, some of the smallest and most vulnerable states in the world, regarding climate change, as well as some of the richer countries of the world who are in a much better position than others to contribute to a successful resolution of the issue.
Manning presents declaration
"We have come to a conclusion which we'd proudly like to present as the Port-of-Spain Climate Change Consensus." Rudd said the declaration was a significant and substantial document aimed at providing consensus, momentum and support for a substantial outcome in Copenhagen. He said climate change financing had been, for some time, one of the key issues in negotiations among states which will participate in the Copenhagen summit. The POS declaration, Rudd added, had now facilitated a breakthrough regarding financing for the most vulnerable states to adapt to and deal with the mitigating effects of climate change. This would be done via an annual "fast start" fund, starting in 2010 and building to a level of resources of $10 billion annually by 2012.
The fund will be known as the Copenhagen Launch Fund. Immediate fast disbursing assistance with a dedicated stream is proposed for small island states and associated low-lying coastal states to the tune of ten per cent of the fund. Leaders met with representatives of such states yesterday. Caribbean states are among small island territories. Commonwealth leaders said they recognised the need for further specified and comparable funding, to assist the poorest and most vulnerable states to cope with climate change. They also acknowledged the need to scale the fund up beyond 2010. Flow of monies for the fund from public and private sources will be discussed during the Copenhagen meeting. The fund is based on a proposal by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
?What the leaders say:
"What the Commonwealth has done today is throw its full weight behind the process now chaired by the Prime Minister of Denmark," Rudd said, noting that the situation on the climate change issue had reached something of an impasse previously. Rudd said the leaders' declaration had recognised the importance of climate change finance in delivering a substantive outcome at Copenhagen. Canada was fully supportive of the declaration and participation in the fund. Rudd added: "What we're seeking to do in Copenhagen is to bring about a comprehensive, substantial, operationally-binding agreement in two steps. "The first is the Port-of-Spain Consensus which will lead to a legally-binding document during the course of 2010."
Ban Ki Moon said he was very encouraged by the Commonwealth leaders' shared desire to achieve a successful outcome at the Copenhagen summit, and welcomed their declaration and commitment. He felt assured that the upcoming conference would "seal a deal " and have immediate effect and short-term financial support for small countries. Rassmussen said he was very impressed by the Commonwealth leaders' statement and was encouraged by their pledge of support to reach a positive outcome in Copenhagen. Sharma said small states would know that they had in the Commonwealth a friend and partner which will "walk the walk" with them in whatever was required for mitigation and accessing finance to deal with climate change effects.