Japan wants all nations in post-Kyoto deal
By Elaine Lies
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan, whose former capital gave its name
to the Kyoto Protocol, wants all nations — including the
United States and especially China — to be bound by the next
framework aimed at fighting global warming, Environment
Minister Yuriko Koike said on Friday.
Officials from 150 countries meet in Montreal next month to
discuss taking the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012, when its first
phase ends, but disagreement is rife and hopes of progress
Japan, which is struggling to meet its own goal of cutting
greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, has long maintained
that the country’s impact on the Earth pales compared to that
of China, the world’s second-largest producer of greenhouse
gases after the United States.
Discussions are expected to center on finding a way to
bring in countries not bound by Kyoto such as the United
States, which has rejected it, and booming economies such as
China and India, which as developing nations have no obligation
to cut emissions for the present.
“Climate change is not something that can be tackled only
by Japan or only by Europe,” Koike, environment minister since
2003 and a strong supporter of Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi, told Reuters in an interview.
“It’s essential for the whole world to cut emissions.”
China, whose emissions of sulphur dioxide were the highest
in the world last year and which is separated from Japan only
by a relatively narrow strip of water, is of particular concern
as the world tries to hammer out a new deal.
“If China emits massive amounts of carbon dioxide as it
develops economically, this will have an impact on the
environment of the whole region,” she said.
“This doesn’t affect only global warming but also the
atmosphere and water. So for the good of the region, this must
be solved or ameliorated cooperatively.”
As one step toward increasing such cooperation, she said,
Japan in July became one of six countries — along with the
United States, China, Australia, India and South Korea — to
form the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and
Detractors say the pact is a distraction engineered by the
United States ahead of the Montreal talks and threatens Kyoto.
Koike said there were no contradictions in Japan’s
participation, despite its having hosted the 1997 meeting that
produced the Kyoto treaty.
“We feel that this is just another kind of partnership that
helps promote dialogue and technology exchange, and this is one
thing we’ll emphasize in Montreal,” she added.
But Japan, which pledged to cut emissions by 6 percent from
1990 levels, faces an uphill fight as its overall emissions
have actually risen by 8 percent since then.
Koike said Japan would manage to meet its goals but faced a
tough challenge, particularly regarding transport and ordinary
households, whose emissions have risen a worrying 28.8 percent
from 1990 levels.
“The more comfortable a household becomes, the more they
emit carbon dioxide,” she said. “We need to change people’s way
of thinking so that this is not the case.”
One effective method may be “Warm Biz,” the wintertime
successor to a summer “Cool Biz” campaign that encouraged
office workers to dress down inside, helping to reduce energy
use by allowing thermostats to be set higher and causing people
to abandon their neckties in droves.
The government is urging offices to set thermostats at 20
degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) throughout the winter,
about 4C lower than usual.
Koike said around 90 percent of people were aware of the
“Cool Biz” campaign and over 40 percent of businesses took
part, and is hoping for a similar impact this winter.
“I hope this will lead everyone to feel they are part of
fighting global warming,” she said.