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Tuesday, June 10, 2008
NGOs slam Fukuda's CO2 proposal as lacking substance
By JUN HONGO
Environmentalists and nongovernment organizations were quick to denounce Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's new climate change initiative Monday, calling it "insufficient" and "lacking essence" for not proposing a solid midterm greenhouse gas reduction target.
"The government can't pledge (a midterm goal) because it has been unsuccessful in cutting the nation's greenhouse gas emissions so far," said Mitsutoshi Hayakawa, managing director for NGO Citizens' Alliance for Saving the Atmosphere and the Earth. "This proposal is an impediment heading in to the Group of Eight summit."
The proposal, titled the "Fukuda Vision," was unveiled by the prime minister during a news conference in Tokyo. It advocates a 60 percent to 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from current levels by 2050 but stops short of setting a midterm target to 2020, such as the one set out by the European Union.
Environmentalists collectively agreed that the absence of such a goal highlights the government's ineptitude in leading international action against global warming.
Mika Obayashi, deputy director of the Tokyo-based Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, said Japan's inability to set a midterm target may hurt more than its reputation as host of the July G8 summit.
Instead of setting quantifiable greenhouse gas emission reduction targets based on past or current output levels, Japan has promoted a "sectoral approach," which focuses on using optimal energy use within each industrial sector.
Since some developing countries have expressed concern that the method is an attempt by industrialized countries to evade its national reduction targets, it was pivotal that Japan "make a pledge with a midterm target and clear away the doubts on the part of the developing countries," Obayashi said.
Jiro Adachi, secretary general of the NGO Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society, said the government is on the right track as it called for the introduction of an emissions trading system on a trial basis this fall. However, he predicted that a full-scale introduction of such a system in Japan would likely take more time.
Adachi acknowledged that Monday's proposal was a "step forward" but far from compelling, because major complications such as linking domestic emissions trading with overseas markets remained untouched and unresolved.
While the government may hope that the Fukuda Vision will help Japan play a key role during the G8 summit, ISEP's Obayashi said it only illustrates its inability to do so.
"If the Japanese government seriously hoped to take leadership at the summit, it should have begun first with managing its domestic issues," she said.