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article imageHollande fears handful could block climate summit

By Robin MILLARD (AFP)     Nov 27, 2015 in World

French President Francois Hollande called on all countries to back a UN climate deal at talks opening in Paris on Monday, but said he feared "a few" nations could derail the process.

Speaking at the Commonwealth summit in Malta, where leaders from the 53-country organisation were seeking common ground on the issue, Hollande said it was mankind's duty to reach an "ambitious" accord so that global warming was tamed.

But he admitted he was worried that it would not take many dissenters for this vision to be wrecked.

The negotiations are taking place under the banner of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a 195-nation forum where decisions are adopted by consensus.

"My fear is that we have to reach an overall agreement," Hollande told a press conference.

"And it would only take a few countries -- because they have not had sufficient guarantees, because they still think that certain obligations would hinder their development -- to block the process."

Hollande, as president of the country hosting the November 30-December 11 conference, was invited to the Commonwealth talks with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The meeting is the last major international forum for discussing climate change before the COP21 summit opens in the French capital on Monday.

"It's a duty for mankind to be able to, in the days to come, reach an agreement: a binding agreement, a universal agreement, one that is ambitious," Hollande said.

"The Commonwealth summit has been a good session in order to prepare for the Paris conference.

"Man is the worst enemy of man. We can see it with terrorism. But we can say the same when it comes to climate. Human beings are destroying nature, damaging the environment.

"It is therefore for human beings to face up to their responsibilities for the good of future generations."

Ban said that due to its geographical span and diversity, from G7 powers to island microstates, the Commonwealth was a "microcosm of the international community".

When the Commonwealth is united, "that can be reasonably said that you represent all the views of the United Nations," he said.

"This is virtually the last political milestone before we meet in Paris. I am encouraged by such a strong commitment from the leaders of the Commonwealth."

Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat unveiled a new $1 billion (940-million-euro) Commonwealth Green Finance Facility to support environmental projects within the 53-nation bloc.

The facility would be capitalised initially through sovereign contributions and then through so-called green bonds, and is expected to be fully operational by the end of 2016.

"All the stars seem to be aligning in one direction," said Ban.

"People on the ground, they urge the leaders of today to make this world better and environmentally sustainable so that succeeding generations can live in peace and harmony."

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