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Monday, March 17, 2008

G20 climate talks end divided

Developing states snub Japan-backed sectoral scheme

Staff writers

CHIBA — The Group of 20 environment and energy ministers vowed Sunday to continue their fight against global warming but fell short of reaching a consensus on a framework to succeed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

"Participating countries share the belief that all nations must join action" to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, trade minister Akira Amari told reporters after the two-day ministerial meeting in Chiba.

Some countries, however, expressed concern over newly proposed schemes, Amari added.

Japan promoted its sectoral approach method during the weekend conference, which is a preparatory meeting for July's Group of Eight summit in Toyako, Hokkaido. But Tokyo's proposal got a cool reception from developing countries, including China and India, for its perceived inequity, the minister acknowledged.

Unfinished negotiations at the weekend meeting, formally known as the Gleneagles Dialogue on Climate Change, Clean Energy and Sustainable Development, will be carried over to the U.N.-led talks on environment preservation later this month in Bangkok.

Japan will also host the G8 environment minister's meeting in Kobe in May.

Environment Minister Ichiro Kamoshita, cochairman of the G20 meeting, expressed hope that talks lead to a global consensus by the time of the July G8 summit.

Calling for an equal reduction obligation for participants, Japan's sectoral approach focuses on strengthening energy-use efficiency in industrial sectors such as steel, cement and electricity to help accelerate cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

The Kyoto Protocol calls for each participating country to set its own reduction goal based on its past emission levels. Under the proposed sectoral approach, however, high carbon-dioxide emitting industries would have to set emissions target from using the most efficient energy technology.

The accumulated sectoral goals would then be set as the quantified national target. Developing countries would also receive technology from developed countries.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Kamoshita stressed that Japan "displayed its leadership in the fight against global warming" by proposing the sectoral approach, but noted differences were voiced about the strategy. Such debate is the "basis of a dialogue," he added.

He revealed that Japan is prepared to hold an international workshop in May to work on the details of the sectoral approach.

While industrialized nations, including the United States, appeared to welcome the new method, developing countries, led by fast-growing China and India, did not.

They argued that the approach would bind developing countries to a global benchmark and shackle their economic growth.

"Sectoral targets in developed countries are vastly different from those in developing countries," a delegate from India told reporters after the meeting.

A government official also said the Kyoto Protocol only pressures developed countries, raising concerns that they will be obliged to cut emissions in league with major industrialized countries when deciding future targets.

"India claims that the country is a major economy, but not a major emitter in terms of volume per capita," the official said.

European Union delegate Andrej Kranjc said the sectoral approach "has potential," but added all nations do not share a mutual understanding of the strategy and consequent responsibilities.

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.

Participating countries also exchanged opinions on strategies for distributing climate-friendly technologies and investments in climate protection during the two-day meeting.

To help the world halve its greenhouse gas emission by 2050, Japan proposed during talks to develop efficient technologies, including biofuel and expanded solar power networks.

The Gleneagles Dialogue was launched in London in November 2005, and results from the fourth and final meeting in Chiba will be reported at the Toyako G8 summit.

The Kyoto Protocol requires major industrialized nations to reduce greenhouse gas emission by an average of 5 per cent, between 2008 and 2012.

Japan is unlikely to meet is goal of reducing emissions to 6 percent below 1990 levels.

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The Japan Times

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