British Commonwealth Leaders Tackle Climate Change

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago, Nov. 27 (UPI) — Climate change is a key agenda item for British Commonwealth leaders meeting in Trinidad in the last major session before the climate summit in Denmark.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Port of Spain also will consider Rwanda’s bid to join and discuss the 2011 Commonwealth summit site in light of Britain’s vowing to block Sri Lanka’s bid, the BBC reported Friday.

Also attending the summit were UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called the meeting “an important springboard toward Copenhagen,” site of the U.N.-sponsored climate change summit.

Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning, host of the three-day meeting, said he hoped the summit would build momentum for an agreement on carbon emissions at Copenhagen.

“We hope to arrive at a political statement that can add value to the process that will culminate in Copenhagen next month,” he said.

Commonwealth leaders were expected to approve Rwanda’s bid to join, despite opponents’ concerns approval could be seen as rewarding a nation they say is guilty of abuses dating back to the 1994 genocide, the BBC said.

British officials indicated they will try to block Sri Lanka’s bid to host the next Commonwealth summit because of the country’s handling of the recent war.

A government source told the BBC Brown had “real concerns about Sri Lanka’s bid.”

“We simply cannot be in a position where Sri Lanka — whose actions earlier this year had a huge impact on civilians, leading to thousands of displaced people without proper humanitarian access — is seen to be rewarded for its actions,” the official said.

The United Nations estimates the conflict with Tamil Tiger rebels left at least 7,000 civilians dead and another 150,000 people displaced.

Copyright 2009 by United Press International

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