Tony Abbott. Photo: AFP
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Colombo, Sri Lanka: Prime Minister Tony Abbott has rejected a proposal from the 53-nation Commonwealth to establish a new fund to help poor and island countries to combat climate change.
As an extraordinary Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting concluded in Colombo, Mr Abbott joined with Canada in rejecting a decision by the summit to push for a Green Capital Fund to help vulnerable island states and poor African countries address the effects of rising sea levels, prolonged droughts, or catastrophic weather incidents, caused by climate change.
The proposal is for Commonwealth countries to work within the UN climate change network to build the fund for small and poor countries to access.
But the final agreement from the 53 members of the Anglosphere Commonwealth noted that “Australia and Canada… indicated they could not support a Green Capital Fund at this time”.
One of the key themes of the summit was the plight of low-lying, and poor states who are especially vulnerable to climate change, but don't have the money for adaptation.
Malta will host the 2015 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, offering to stage the event after Mauritius withdrew in protest over Sri Lanka hosting this year's forum.
Prime Minister of Mauritius Navin Ramgoolam did not attend the Colombo meeting in protest at Sri Lanka's human rights record, and said his country would not be prepared to present the next one.
The issue of human rights violations dominated the final day of CHOGM 2013. Under questioning from foreign journalists, and in response to spirited defences from local reporters, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse asked the international community to give his country time to reconcile after 30 years of civil war.
“This is not something you can do overnight. You must also respect our own views without trying to push us into a corner, so please be fair.”
Four years since the war's end, relations between Sri Lanka's Sinhalese, Tamil, and Muslim communities remain strained. But Mr Rajapakse said he felt responsible for the welfare of all citizens of the island nation.
“They are all my people, my citizens, I will look after them, it is my responsibility… I will do it.”