Commonwealth agreement makes Paris climate deal more likely

Leaders from the Commonwealth’s 53 countries agreed on climate change accord at a three-day summit in Malta, making a Paris climate deal all the more likely, said Maltese prime minister Joseph Muscat.

“The fact that we have achieved convergence and near unanimity on a very focused statement on climate change puts the possibility of a success at COP21 in better shape,” said Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, the Commonwealth summit host, at the close of a three-day summit on the Mediterranean island, reports France24.

Heads of the Commonwealth countries, which represent around one third of the world’s population, pledged to demand an “ambitious”, legally binding outcome from the global climate change summit in Paris, which officially starts today. The accord states that the Commonwealth is “deeply concerned” about the threat of a warming planet, especially to the more vulnerable countries, some of whom called a climate deal in Paris “a matter of life and death”.

“Climate change unites us, it puts us all in the same canoe. If a big wave comes, that canoe is going to be washed away with everyone in it,” said President Baron Waqa of Nauru.

Freundel Stuart, the prime minister of Barbados, called on Paris attendees to wake up to the threat of climate change: “If we don’t reach a sensible agreement in Paris, we can all prepare for disaster.”

Commonwealth countries include G7 powers such as Britain and Canada, emerging economies like India and tiny island microstates such as the Maldives. Agreement among such a diverse group of nations is often a good indicator for deals struck beyond its bounds, writes France24.

Around 150 leaders are expected to attend the UN conference in Paris. The goal is to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius over pre-Industrial Revolution levels, but small island members of the Commonwealth insisted over the weekend at the Malta summit that the two-degree limit does not go far enough and have called for a 1.5-degree limit instead.


Susan Melkisethian, flickr/Creative Commons


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