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Saturday, Jan. 14, 2006

WWF faults Sydney parley for fostering fossil fuel dependence


Staff writer

The Japanese branch of an international environmental watchdog on Friday blasted an agreement struck the previous day in Sydney by Japan, the United States and Australia to transfer to the developing world advanced technologies to combat global warming. The technologies are cleaner, but are still based on fossil fuel use.

Without a focus on alternative energy sources, the Sydney agreement will only prolong the dependence of businesses in developing countries on fossil fuel, said Yurika Ayukawa, a senior climate policy official at WWF Japan.

The group argues that the key to curbing greenhouse gas emissions is to replace fossil fuels -- including oil, coal and natural gas -- with alternative energy sources, including solar and wind power.

"The action plan (under the agreement) states that member countries will keep using fossil fuels" that emit greenhouse gases, she said. "We call this agreement a coal agreement."

At the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate that ended Thursday, ministers and business leaders from the U.S., Australia, Japan, China, South Korea and India agreed to set up industry-based, international task forces that will promote development of technologies to combat global warming in eight areas, including electric power generation and steel production.

"The six countries account for about 60 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. The content of (the agreement) will continue to allow and encourage the countries to use coal and other fossil fuels, which would increase the world's (greenhouse gas) emissions to twice the current level by 2050," Ayukawa said. "As a result, the world cannot avoid a 4-degree rise in the average temperature."

Even though the task forces will not be effective in fighting global warming, Tokyo's commitment to the Sydney pact will allow Japanese industries to continue using fossil fuels, and will benefit them by transferring their fossil fuel technologies to developing countries, Ayukawa said.

She cited the example of Japanese power companies, which boast efficient thermal power generation using coal gasification technology.

"The companies can make profits under the slogan of fighting global warming," Ayukawa said.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, developed countries can purchase emission credits by implementing projects that help cut such emissions in developing countries by transferring renewable energy technologies, for example.

High-efficiency power generation projects that use coal are not covered under the protocol.



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