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Commonwealth Countries Back Call for Climate Treaty

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Leaders of the Commonwealth countries have endorsed a call for a legally binding international agreement on climate change. They have also agreed a global Copenhagen launch fund to set aside billions of dollars for poorer countries to meet their obligations.

The 53-country meeting in Port of Spain, capital of the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, is the last and largest gathering of world leaders before the upcoming UN summit on climate change.

The Commonwealth accounts for a third of the world's population.

A statement has been endorsed to adopt a binding agreement at next month's Copenhagen climate summit.

Lars Likke Rasmussen, Danish Prime Minister, said, "The proposal for the Copenhagen launch fund is very concrete and delivers on the very important issue of fast-start funding. Movement on finance is indeed key to catalyzing negotiations towards the Copenhagen agreement."

Leaders say the agreement should be adopted no later than next year, and the funds should be made available at the same time. They will provide up to US$10 billion a year in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

The statement calls for 10 percent of the funds to go to help small island and low-lying coastal states, which are in the front line of climate change damage due to rising sea levels. Nearly half of the Commonwealth is made up of small island states.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has welcomed the conclusion.

(CCTV November 29, 2009)

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