Climate change trial run in Port of Spain

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Port of Spain, Nov.27 (ANI): Commonwealth leaders from 53 member nations, mainly former British colonies begin their three-day summit here from today.

Host Prime Minister Patrick Manning has said the meeting aims to send a firm message in favor of cooperation to limit global warming ahead of U.N. climate change talks due in Copenhagen on December 7-18.

"We hope to arrive at a political statement that can add value to the process that will culminate in Copenhagen next month ... what we can do is raise our voices politically," Manning told a news conference on Thursday.

Manning also said U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Danish President Lars Lokke Rasmussen would join a special discussion session on climate change to be held by the Commonwealth leaders on Friday.

He said the Commonwealth's wide membership, bringing together wealthy industrialized nations like Britain, Canada and Australia with some of the world's smallest and most vulnerable states, made the group especially "reflective of world opinion" in the climate change debate.

Although most nations are not very hopeful of a final binding legal climate treaty text coming into effect in Copenhagen, prospects for a broad political agreement have improved by public promises of greenhouse gas curbs by China and the United States. President Obama has even said that he would be attending the Copenhagen meet, givingt a higher profile.

Meanwhile Commonwealth Secretary General Kamlesh Sharma said it would be up to the Commonwealth leaders to decide on the effectiveness of their fight against global warming, but he added "If I get a very clear direction, the happier I'll be".

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has said that CHOGM leaders must agree on 'a strong statement on the dangers of letting climate change continue unchecked'.

Dispelling misgivings about the relevance of CHOGM and its expected climate change declaration, he said: "Our collective opinion is respected across the world. But like any international organisation, the Commonwealth must evolve to remain relevant. In Port of Spain this year, we have a real opportunity to demonstrate such relevance bygreeing a strong statement on climate change-something made more significant given the Copenhagen summit in December." By Smita Prakash (ANI)

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