In the past, the Commonwealth has suspended several countries for human rights reasons. Now, campaigners, politicians and scientists have proposed suspending Canada because of its climate policy.
This weekend's summit of Commonwealth leaders beginning in Trinidad is the last major international gathering before the Copenhagen climate change conference in December. Here too, climate change will be on top of the agenda.
The Commonwealth’s 53 members include not only developed countries like Britain, Australia and Canada, but also emerging economies like India and South Africa as well as poor developing states comprising some of the world’s most vulnerable to global warming, like the Maldives and Bangladesh.
In the past, the Commonwealth has suspended Pakistan, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and South Africa for electoral or human rights reasons. Now, The World Development Movement, the Polaris Institute in Canada and Greenpeace have called for Canada to be suspended from the Commonwealth over its climate change policies, the Guardian reports.
"Countries that fail to help (tackle global warming) should be suspended from membership, as are those that breach human rights," says Clare Short, the former International Development Secretary according to the Guardian.
"If the Commonwealth is serious about holding its members to account, then threatening the lives of millions of people in developing countries should lead to the suspension of Canada's membership immediately," says Saleemul Huq, a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change according to the newspaper.
Canada's greenhouse gas emissions are among the world's highest, and the country will not meet the cut required under the Kyoto protocol: by 2007 its emissions were 34% above its reduction target. Canada's environment department has refused to comment on the call for the country to be suspended, the Guardian reports.