Japan targets climate change with $10 billion fund
By Natsuko Waki
DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Japan, one of the world's biggest greenhouse gas emitters, presented a $10 billion package on Saturday to help emerging countries tackle climate change without risking growth.
Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who hosts the Group of Eight leaders' summit in northern Japan in July, also said Japan would cut its carbon emissions beyond the 2012 expiry of the Kyoto Protocol and proposed a global target to improve energy efficiency by 2020.
The five-year "Cool Earth Partnership" fund, financed publicly and privately, will set aside up to $8 billion for assistance in climate change mitigation, and up to $2 billion for grants, aid and technical assistance for countries switching to clean energy.
"There is no time to lose in addressing climate change," Fukuda told some of the 2,500 business and political leaders at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum during his flying visit to the ski resort of Davos.
"We will extend the hand of assistance to developing countries suffering severe adverse impacts as a result of climate change."
Fukuda said the G8 will be committed to work on climate issues but must include emerging countries in the discussion. Fukuda's climate proposals included a global target to improve energy efficiency by 30 percent by 2020.
Japan will also be investing about $30 billion in research and development in the environment and energy sectors over the next five years.
"The world as a whole must strive to improve energy efficiency until revolutionary technology which will dramatically reduce greenhouse gas becomes available," he said.
Fukuda made no mention of the details of the country's planned targets on reducing emission.
Emissions targets are a contentious issue in Japan, where business groups are fiercely opposed to profit-threatening policies such as a carbon tax or a European-style mandatory cap-and-trade system to penalize polluters.
At United Nations-led talks in Bali last month, Japan sided with the United States and rejected a European Union-backed emissions cut target beyond 2012, prompting outrage among environmentalists.
Every summer Japan carries out a "Cool Biz" campaign to get office workers, including government ministers, to shed their stuffy suits and ties and keep thermostats at 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit) as a way to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
For full coverage, blogs and TV from Davos, see: http://uk.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/worldeconomicforum2008