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Sunday, March 16, 2008

G20 energy chiefs push for more egalitarian climate pact

Staff writers

CHIBA — Energy and environment ministers from 20 top emitters of carbon dioxide kicked off a discussion Saturday to explore the creation of an international framework for fighting global warming to succeed the Kyoto Protocol.

News photo
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair (left) shakes hands with Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Akira Amari as Environment Minister Ichiro Kamoshita looks on at the opening of the 4th Ministerial Meeting of the Gleneagles Dialogue in Chiba on Saturday. AP PHOTO

With Japan hosting the Group of Eight Summit to be held in Toyako, Hokkaido, in July, trade minister Akira Amari and environment minister Ichiro Kamoshita have been tasked with securing the groundwork for a climate-protecting agenda that can bring all countries on board.

"It is crucial that we create a framework that all major greenhouse gas emitting countries take part in," Kamoshita said in opening the meeting, which is known as the G8 Gleneagles Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development. The meeting ends Sunday.

Regarded as a preparatory meeting for the G8 summit, the Chiba Gleneagles Dialogue will focus on strategies for distributing climate-friendly technologies, investment in climate protection and structuring the post-Kyoto framework.

The industrialized nations also will discuss methods to give financial and technological support to developing economies to fight climate change.

"Both developing countries and industrialized countries can aggressively pursue their fight against climate change" by implementing efficient energy policies, Amari said in his opening comments for the meeting, also know as the G20 summit.

The Group of 20 consists of China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Iran, South Africa, South Korea, Poland, Mexico, Spain, Australia and the EU, in addition to all G8 members. The countries represent approximately 80 percent of the world's carbon dioxide emissions.

Representatives of the International Energy Agency, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank also attended the meeting.

The Kyoto Protocol, drafted in 1997, requires major industrialized nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an average of five percent, between 2008 and 2012.

Japan's goal under the pact is to reduce emissions to 6 percent below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012, but it is looking highly unlikely to reach the target.

Japan has insisted that a post-2013 framework must ensure fairness in allocating reduction obligations, and proposed that climate-change initiatives be based on sectoral approach.

Under the "bottom-up approach," industries that produce high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, for example the steel, electricity and oil refining industries, would aim to cut emissions by using the best available energy-saving technology. Such sectoral potentials will be calculated and amalgamated to set quantified national target.

Developing countries would also receive technology from developed countries, such as Japan.

"There is a rough consensus that this is an effective tool," to reduce greenhouse gas emission, trade minister Amari told reporters after Saturday's session on technology. "But there were some opinions that some aspects of the approach are not clear enough."

U.S. Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky, chief of the American delegation, said Saturday evening that the U.S. welcomes the sectoral approaches proposed by Japan.

"There is also active discussion on this concept. . . . our position is that these proposals are on the table for active discussion and we welcome it," Dobriansky told The Japan Times.

But such countries as China and South Africa were reluctant to adopt the system and said they need to study the effectiveness of the approach more, a Japanese government official said.

Japan also proposed developing 21 technologies to help the world halve its current greenhouse gas output by 2050.

These include coal- and gas-fueled power plants with near-zero emissions, solar power advances, vehicles powered by fuel cells or biofuels, hydrogen-based steelmaking, and advanced nuclear power.

Earlier in the day, environment minister Kamoshita held bilateral meetings with Dobriansky and Phil Woolas, the British minister of state for department for environment, food and rural affairs.

"Japan is playing a positive role in putting its proposals forward but it's too early to say what the reaction from the U.K will be," Woolas told reporters after talks with Kamoshita on quantified national targets and sectoral approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emission.

"What we agreed is that we would look at each others' proposals, and share the understanding of how we can reach an agreement. What is important now, since Bali, is that we discuss the solution" for global warming, he said.

The Gleneagles Dialogue was launched in London in November 2005. Results from the fourth and final meeting in Chiba will be reported at the Toyako summit.

U.N.-led talks in December in Bali, Indonesia, launched talks to push for a successor to the Kyoto Protocol.

Kyoto's first phase, which ends in 2012, only requires industrialized countries to cut back on emissions.

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The Japan Times

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