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Commonwealth Leaders Call for Legally-Binding Agreement by 2010, Support Copenhagen Launch Fund

commonwealthlogo28 November 2009: Commonwealth leaders, joined by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Danish Prime Minister Lars LøkkeRasmussen, focused discussions on climate change during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held from 27-29 November 2009, in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

Addressing the meeting, Secretary-General Ban urged the leaders to stay focused and committed to reaching an agreement in Copenhagen that is ambitious, equitable and satisfies the demands of science. He warned against the costs of "failing" in Copenhagen, adding that "failure to seal a deal could result in increased human suffering, higher economic losses, opportunities squandered in terms of productivity, global competitiveness and political stability." 

At the conclusion of the meeting, Commonwealth leaders issued a declaration - the Port of Spain Climate Change Consensus - in which they define climate change as "the challenge of our time," posing a threat to the security, prosperity, economic and social development of people. Leaders commit to focusing efforts "on achieving the strongest possible outcome" in Copenhagen, expressly supporting "a comprehensive, substantial and operationally binding agreement in Copenhagen leading towards a full legally-binding outcome no later than 2010." They underscore that the agreement in Copenhagen must address the urgent needs of developing countries by providing financing, support for adaptation, technology transfer and capacity building, as well as approaches and incentives for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation from developing countries (REDD), and for afforestation and sustainable management of forests.

In the Consensus, Commonwealth leaders further express support for the establishment of a Copenhagen Launch Fund for developing countries, to start in 2010 and build to US$10 billion a year by 2012, as proposed by UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Sarkozy. Commonwealth leaders call for immediate, fast disbursing assistance of at least 10% of the fund with a dedicated stream for small island States and associated low-lying coastal States of the Alliance of Small Island States, and for a specified and comparable funding stream for the poorest and most vulnerable countries. Commonwealth leaders also recognize that funding will be scaled up beyond 2012. They further agree that a future governance structure should provide for States to monitor and comply with arrangements entered under a new Copenhagen agreement.

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 53 countries from Africa, Asia, the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe and the South Pacific, which work together towards shared goals in democracy and development. The 2009 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, titled "Partnering for a more equitable and sustainable future," included a special session on climate change. [Commonwealth Secretariat Press Release, 28 November][Commonwealth Secretariat Press Release, 27 November][Port of Spain Climate Change Consensus][UN Press Release]