The transport sector is facing strong pressure to launch aggressive initiatives aimed at drastically reducing carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to global warming.
Representatives of twenty-two nations met in Tokyo on Thursday to take part in a discussion on how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ““ over 20 percent of which are caused by the transportation sector.
Transport ministers, including those from large polluters in the United States, China and India, took part in the commencement of two days of talks in Japan.
Each of the ministers represent countries that account for about 70 percent of CO2 emissions of the global transport sector.
“Everyone living on the Earth is expected to take responsible actions to protect our planet,” said Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso.
“I would like each participating country to accelerate its efforts to reduce C02 emissions from the transport sector, as well as to enhance its support for developing countries, utilizing its technologies and experiences,” Aso said.
Yvo de Boer, head of the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat, was also present during the talks.
He said the transport sector “is at a juncture.”
“There can be no doubt that the transport sector will come under intense pressure and needs to dramatically change direction,” said de Boer.
“Transport industries should no longer find themselves in the position of beggars for billions of taxpayer’s dollars. Instead, they need to come back into pole position of drivers of economic growth, through the production of smart and efficient cars, trains, ships and planes,” he said.
The meeting comes in advance of an upcoming conference in Copenhagen in December where policymakers are expected to form a treaty that will begin when the Kyoto Protocol’s obligations expire.
“It’s early in the debate for a number of countries to commit to a statement,” de Boer told Reuters.
Airlines are responsible for about 2 percent of global CO2 emissions, and that amount is expected to increase with the popularity of air travel.
Shipping’s share of global emissions is about 3 percent, equivalent to total industrial emissions from Germany, but the industry is trying to trim fuel use through better hull designs, cleaner fuels and simple measures such as installing more efficient lighting onboard.
“I’m struck by the fact this meeting of transport ministers universally recognizes their sector needs to be a part of the solution to climate change not a part of the problem of climate change,” de Boer said.
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