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Commonwealth meeting to bring together UN, France, Denmark on climate change

2009-11-27 09:44 BJT

PORT OF SPAIN, Nov. 26 (Xinhua) -- The Commonwealth will bring to together the United Nations secretary general and the prime ministers of France and Denmark, as well as 51 heads of state to tackle climate change on Friday, an unprecedented event in the organization's history, its leaders told media on Thursday.

Speaking at a press conference, Trinidad and Tobago's prime minister, Patrick Manning said this meeting would seek to create apolitical document that would "add value" to the existing United Nations process.

The organization has never hosted French President Nicholas Sarkozy nor his Danish counterpart Lars Rasmussen. The U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has had closer contact with the organization. Denmark is hosting a 192-nation December conference that is intended to replace the 1999 Kyoto Protocol on climate change.

Speaking at the same press conference, the Commonwealth's Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma said the presence of all three was an important opportunity for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), which has brought over 1,000 participants and 4,000 other interested parties to the island nation.

Manning said that Caribbean nations like Trinidad "are affected by the increasing ferocity and regularity of hurricanes that have devastated some nations in the region" as a result of climate change.

Manning also said that the cabinet of Trinidad and Tobago is contemplating new policy measures that aim to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

"We are an industrialized nation," he said, listing ammonia plants and four natural gas-powered electricity plants as producers of carbon dioxide, the world's most common greenhouse gas. "Trinidad has to concern itself with what it is contributing negatively. And, on a voluntary basis, Trinidad and Tobago will do something about it."

"A policy document is on the table of the nation's cabinet and next year we will make an important contribution," he said.

The Commonwealth, most of whose members are former British colonies, includes a large number of small island nations spread across the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and the Pacific. Some of these, including Vanuatu and the Maldives, are already losing land to rising sea levels caused by global warming.

Sharma praised Manning for representing the organization's smaller members, and reiterated the organization's faith in human rights and parliamentary processes.

Before the press conference, Sharma had issued a statement urging nations to act swiftly on climate change.

The Commonwealth has 53 members, most of whom are former British Colonies. The Heads of Government meeting is set to begin formally on Friday, but junior officials, including foreign ministers, have been holding agenda setting meetings since Monday.

Editor: Du Xiaodan | Source: Xinhua