Japan Wants All Nations in Post-Kyoto Deal
TOKYO 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 slim.
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 centre 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 towards 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 Climate.
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 emphasise 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.