Commonwealth steers clear of binding emissions targets
Harper calls for climate change protocol for all major polluters
Leaders of the 53-member Commonwealth produced a statement on Saturday stripped of any reference to binding targets for greenhouse gas emissions.
Canada and Australia had been the lone holdouts against calls to compel each member country into meeting certain targets, as outlined in a draft version of the document circulated earlier at the conference in Uganda's capital, Kampala.
The final statement,issued on the second day of the three-day summit,said that next month's climate change talks in Bali, Indonesia should be "inclusive in nature and should work towards outcomes that are ambitious, comprehensive, equitable, have respect for different national circumstances, and provide for flexibility in addressing climate change.
"Our shared goal should be to achieve a comprehensive post-2012 global agreement that strengthens, broadens, and deepens current arrangements and leads to reduced emissions of global greenhouse gases.
"This should include a long-term aspirational goal for emissions reduction to which all countries would contribute."
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper insisted any reference to binding targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions be deleted because the call for committing to such targets would not apply to all major polluters.
"What we were dealing with here was an initial proposal that would suggest binding and absolute targets on some countries and not others. And Canada has been insistent now at three consecutive international forums that we need one effective international protocol that ultimately involves action by all major emitters," he said.
BritishPrime Minister Gordon Brown, who met earlier Saturday with Harper, was one of the strongestadvocates ofa bindingcommitment to reduce greenhouse gases.
ButCanada refused to agree to the plan, andwithout consensus,the Commonwealth was blocked.
Harper pointed out that Canada's position at the Commonwealth is the same to one it took at the G-8 and APEC summits earlier this year.
He said the next international climate deal to replace the Kyoto accord, which expires in 2012, should include commitments from such countries as China and India, as well as the United States.
China and India are exempt from Kyoto, while the U.S. has never signed on.
Australia has not ratified the accord, but could get tougher on fighting climate change under the leadership of Kevin Rudd, whose Labour party defeated Prime Minister John Howard's Liberal party inSaturday's election.
Speaking in Kampala, Harper said he is looking forward to having a good relationship with Howard's successor.
Liberal leader Stephane Dion, meanwhile, issued a statement commending Rudd's pro-Kyoto stand.
"I particularly wish to applaud Mr. Ruddfor his determination to restore Australia's commitment to the Kyoto Protocol," Dion said.