President in Paris for global forum on climate change

President Mahama.

President Mahama.

President John Mahama is in Paris, France, to join other world leaders at the Climate Change Conference dubbed ‘CHOGM 2015′

He arrived there after attending the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Malta.

The Commonwealth meeting which ended yesterday also discussed climate change issues as well as security matters.

Going into the conference, the Commonwealth leaders in a position paper adopted at the end of their meeting, pledged billions to promote action to combat climate change.

The United Kingdom has committed £21 million for disaster management, and £5.5 million for the ocean-based economy. Australia has committed $1 million for a new Commonwealth idea: a Climate Finance Access Hub, while Canada promised $2.65 billion over five years, to help developing countries cope with climate change.

India also said it will provide $ 2.5 million for the vulnerable nations in the Commonwealth, to help them introduce clean energy and reduce green-house gas emissions.

“Canada is back and ready to play its part in combating climate change, and this includes helping the poorest and most vulnerable countries in the world adapt. The investment announced will help build a more environmentally sustainable future for generations to come,” said Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said the new pledges would help some of the most vulnerable countries in the Commonwealth.

“Thirty-one of our 53 members are small states, and 25 are small island developing states, which are most vulnerable to climate change,” he said

“Many of our members are struggling to cope with the devastating effects of climate change. Islands in the Pacific and the Caribbeans are having to deal with rising sea levels that could drive them from their homelands, and an onslaught of increased violent storms that is hampering their development,” the Secretary- General said.

The Commonwealth has proposed a novel way to stimulate climate action: trading debt relief for fresh activities to limit carbon emissions, or address climate change.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon supported the idea during the special session, and encouraged heads of government to raise their level of ambition on climate change, because failure to act now would “ruin” internationally-agreed sustainable development goals.

French President Francois Hollande was a guest at the Special Session.

At its start, Commonwealth leaders held a minute’s silence in honour of the people who lost their lives in the recent terrorist attacks in Paris.

Speaking at a press conference just after the session, Mr Hollande urged world leaders to “face our responsibility” and “reach an overall agreement on climate change,” adding, “Man is the worst enemy of man.”

He said: “We can say it with terrorism, but we can say the same when it comes to climate. Human beings are betraying nature, damaging the environment. It is, therefore, up to human beings to face up to their responsibilities”.

“It’s a duty for mankind to be able, in the days to come, to reach an agreement, a binding agreement, a universal agreement and one that is ambitious.”

From Dave Agbenu, Paris

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