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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Midterm CO2 goal needed: Ban


Staff writer

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon lauded Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura for not wearing a tie as part of energy-saving efforts but demanded bolder action Monday to save the Earth, urging Japan to set a midterm emissions-reduction goal.

News photo
Warm welcome: U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is greeted by children during a ceremony in Tokyo on Monday. AP PHOTO

Ban, on his first official trip to Japan in his current capacity, also went without a tie during his meeting with Komura, who is participating in the government's Cool Biz drive to dress lighter so air conditioner thermostats can be set higher to reduce energy consumption.

Ban praised various energy-saving efforts Japan has been championing as well as Tokyo's long-term goal of reducing global warming gas by 60 percent to 80 percent by 2050, according to a senior official who briefed reporters.

But Ban also was quoted as telling Komura: "It is necessary for Japan to set a midterm goal targeting 2020."

The European Union has already pledged a midterm goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent from the 1990 level, urging other countries to set similarly ambitious targets.

Japanese negotiators have argued that pledging a midterm goal now would be premature because the country is trying to set a global goal that both developed and developing countries can accept.

During their meeting, Komura told Ban that Tokyo will reveal its midterm goal sometime next year when the time is right to lead negotiations between developed and developing countries, the official said.

Tokyo's priority is to form a post-Kyoto Protocol framework that all major emitting states, including China, the U.S. and India, can endorse, Komura was quoted as saying.

Japan is now trying to work as a go-between for the developed and developing countries, Komura told Ban.

Ban also thanked Japan for the support it has extended to the United Nations. He asked Tokyo to contribute more to U.N.-led peacekeeping operations, saying the U.N. needs more support, particularly in logistics and airlift operations.

But Ban did not mention a specific geographical area in making the request.

During the meeting, Komura expressed strong misgivings about the presidential election in Zimbabwe, as did Ban.

Ban said the election was not legitimate, pointing out he issued a second statement of condemnation in Japan over the poll, the official said.

During a separate meeting later in the day, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda told Ban that Japan plans to send a small number of Self-Defense Force personnel to a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Sudan, officials said. But the dispatch will only involve a few Ground Self-Defense Force members in the initial stage and will not include full-scale SDF units, they said.

Fukuda also pledged a $1 million contribution to build a peacekeeping operation center in Malaysia, in another effort to bolster Japan's diplomatic clout in international society.

The war-renouncing Constitution strictly limits the SDF's overseas operations to noncombat missions, but the government is nonetheless trying to dispatch personnel for various international operations in an effort to counter criticism against what has been often described as Japan's "checkbook diplomacy" that lacks flesh-and-blood contributions.

"The government will actively carry out what it can do right now," Fukuda told a news conference following their talks. "The basis for it is fostering human resources" that can contribute to international peace-building efforts.

Ban said he appreciated Fukuda's pledges to contribute more to U.N.-led operations. "I particularly appreciated the welcome news that the prime minister and his government is going to send the SDF to the U.N. mission in Sudan," Ban said at the news conference.



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