Britain dismisses Japan climate change plan
By Chisa Fujioka
MAKUHARI, Japan (Reuters) - Japan wants major emitters to fight climate change by targeting efficiency of industries, a trade ministry official said on Friday, but Britain dismissed it as the wrong approach.
Japan is hosting a three-day meeting of 20 of the world's top greenhouse gas polluters and believes sectoral curbs on major polluting industries such as cement makers and power generators can rein in growing carbon dioxide emissions.
Japan, the world's fifth-largest greenhouse gas emitter, argues nations should share energy efficiency indicators to figure out how much they can cut climate-warming emissions blamed for rising seas, more intense storms and melting glaciers.
"We think it is an approach which all major emitters will be able to take part in," said Toru Ishida, director-general at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry's Bureau for Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment.
"It is not putting a sector cap. It's adding up potential volume from each sector," he said in an interview with Reuters.
Full details of Japan's plan have yet to be announced, but introducing energy-saving technologies on a sectoral basis would be in its favor since many of its industries are already relatively energy efficient.
China, India and other developing nations have less cash to upgrade their industries and say rich nations should help them pay for cleaner technology.
"That's not the overall approach that Britain favors," British Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said in an interview in Tokyo on Friday as environment and energy officials from the G20 countries began talks.
"You can't mess around with this. There needs to be clear international targets and they need to be translated into targets for nation states," he added.
He said governments needed to be held accountable for hitting targets. This would be difficult under a sectoral approach.
"We've got to monitor these things. If you have a sectoral approach it's not quite clear how you'd monitor it," Wicks said. "Would they be mandatory or voluntary? I don't think, to be blunt, that fits the bill really."
Washington says it will accept binding emissions commitments if all other major emitters back individual goals as well. The Bush administration refuses to commit unilaterally to emissions goals for 2020 or 2050 as some other nations are demanding.
But President George W. Bush also wants all major emitters to agree curbs on emissions by the end of 2008, without saying what level of reductions it would accept.
The G20, ranging from top polluters the United States and China to Indonesia, Brazil and South Africa, emit about 80 percent of mankind's greenhouse gases and the group is under pressure to find ways to curb growing emissions.
They are among nearly 190 nations that agreed in Bali in December to launch two years of talks on creating a global pact to replace the Kyoto Protocol from 2013. Kyoto only commits rich nations to curb emissions. Developing nations are excluded.
Former British prime minister Tony Blair, who addresses the G20 gathering on Saturday, backs a plan for the world to halve greenhouse gases by 2050, he told the Guardian newspaper in an interview published on Friday.
"This is extremely urgent. A 50 percent cut by 2050 has to be a central component of this," Blair said.
"We have to try this year to get that agreed, because the moment you do agree that then you have something for everyone to focus upon. We need a true and proper global deal and that needs to include America and China."
Environmentalists on Friday also called on rich nations to come up with billions in new money to help poor countries fight global warming and not just repackage development aid.
Doubts about Japanese, British and U.S.-backed funds aimed at transferring clean technology to poorer nations or to help them adapt to climate change were "not creating a very good mood going into the G20," Jennifer Morgan of environmental institute E3G told an NGO briefing on the sidelines of the
-- For Reuters latest environment blogs click on:
(Additional reporting by Risa Maeda and Isabel Reynolds in Tokyo, David Fogarty in Makuhari and Peter Graff in London; Writing by David Fogarty; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)