Warning that climate change was posing “existential” threat to several small countries, the 53-nation Commonwealth on Saturday said the upcoming Copenhagen meet should come out with an ambitious mitigation outcome as there was a need for an “urgent and substantial” action to reduce global emissions.

The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM), attended among others by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, asked the developed nations to continue to lead on cutting their emissions and emphasised that the developing countries, in line with their national circumstances, should also take action to achieve a substantial deviation from “business-as- usual emissions“.

Noting that it represents one—third of the world’s population, the CHOGM declaration said that “internationally legally binding agreement is essential” and its voice has to be heard at the next month’s Copenhagen Summit.

“Science, and our own experience, tells us that we only have a few short years to address this threat. The average global temperature has risen because of the increase in carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions. The latest scientific evidence indicates that in order to avoid dangerous climate change that is likely to have catastrophic impacts we must find solutions using all available avenues. We must act now,” the Port of Spain Climate Change Consensus stated.

It said that the upcoming meet on climate change provides an “unprecedented opportunity...We approach Copenhagen with ambition, optimism and determination.

The declaration said the agreement in Copenhagen must address the urgent needs of developing countries by providing financing, support for adaptation, technology transfer and incentives for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and for afforestation.

It pointed out that a global climate change solution is central to the “survival of peoples, promotion of development and facilitation of a global transition to a low emission development path“.

The two-days CHOGM, attended for the first time by UN Secretary-General, besides two non-Commonwealth leaders -- President Nicholas Sarkozy of France and Denmark’s Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen, said, “needs of the most vulnerable must be addressed. Their voice must be heard and capacity to engage strengthened.”

“Many of us from small island states, low-lying coastal states and least developed countries face the greatest challenges, yet have contributed least to the problem of climate change,” it said.

“We have the global reach and diversity to help forge the inclusive global solutions needed to combat climate change,” the leaders declared, saying that in building towards an international agreement, all countries will need to play their part, in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

“Public and private financial resources for developing countries will need to be scaled up urgently and substantially by 2020. We recognise that adaptation finance in particular should be targeted towards the poorest and most vulnerable countries,” the declaration said.