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Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2005

Japan urged to spread energy technology to rest of world

Staff writer

Japan should contribute to solving the problem of global warming by achieving its own greenhouse gas emissions target and transferring advanced energy-saving technologies to other countries, according to Argentina's environment minister.

News photo
Gines Gonzalez Garcia, Argentina's environment minister, gives an interview at the Argentine Embassy in Tokyo.

Health and Environment Minister Gines Gonzalez Garcia said he expects Japan to fulfill its goal of curbing greenhouse gas emissions by 6 percent from 1990 levels, even though it appears to be a tough hurdle as emissions here in fiscal 2003 were 8 percent higher than that level.

"Japan has experienced balancing both economic growth and environmental protection," Gonzalez Garcia said in an interview at the Argentine Embassy in Tokyo. "The advanced energy-related technologies, which Japan has developed, will lead to carrying out its commitment and also can be utilized in the rest of the world."

He is in Japan to attend Wednesday's celebration of the launching of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, organized jointly by the Environment Ministry, the Kyoto Prefectural Government and the Kyoto Municipal Government.

Argentina hosted the 10th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 10) in December in Buenos Aires.

Gonzalez Garcia said the fact that the protocol finally takes effect Wednesday, which is the establishment of binding international commitments to curb greenhouse gas emissions, has great meaning to the people of the world.

"Now we are at a starting point of a long road" toward solving the problem of global warming, he said, stressing that further discussions among countries and efforts of individual nations are indispensable in addressing the issue.

Gonzales Garcia, who chaired COP 10, said the conference was a step forward in the multilateral process to cope with global warming.

An informal multilateral conference on the issue is scheduled for May. The idea was based on a proposal from Argentina and was agreed to by the parties that joined COP 10, he said.

Described as a "seminar" on global warming, the meeting will see government officials and experts exchanging information on policies and measures to curb emissions and discussing whatever subjects come up related to the problem, he said.

The agenda will include how to address gas emissions in 2013 and after, he said, as the Kyoto Protocol only specifies commitments up to 2012.

But it appears the May conference has already been watered down in terms of its binding force. While European delegates to COP 10 wanted to begin discussions on international commitments on curbing emissions after 2013 at the next meeting, the United States opposed the start of such discussions.

The U.N. eventually defined the May conference as "without prejudices to any future negotiations, commitments, process, framework or mandate under the Convention and the Kyoto Protocol."

Although there was criticism that COP 10 failed to achieve much progress, Gonzalez Garcia said he regards the decision of holding the May conference as a good result, because maintaining opportunities for countries, including the U.S., to discuss the issue is significant.

The U.S., the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, rejected the Kyoto Protocol in 2001, contending that the pact could affect its economy. It is, however, still a party to the U.N. convention on climate change.

Gonzalez Garcia said efforts by politicians and the people of the world should be able to change the U.S. stance.

"If people in the world have high awareness of environmental protection, it will have much impact on the will of politicians," he said, adding that such pressure could lead the U.S. toward making a commitment on solving global warming.

And even though developing countries, including Argentina, are exempt from emissions reduction requirements under the Kyoto pact, their governments and citizens are gaining more awareness of global warning, he said.

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