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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

G8 SUMMIT 2008

Summit aiming to offset all its CO2 emissions


Staff writer

TOYAKO, Hokkaido — Debate on global warming can heat up sometimes, but the Group of Eight summit shouldn't be contributing to climate change.

News photo
Keeping cool: Journalists covering the Group of Eight summit in Toyako, Hokkaido, mill about above snow stocked under the International Media Center in the town of Rusutsu on Monday. JUN HONGO PHOTO

According to the Foreign Ministry, the gathering in Toyako will be the second G8 summit, after the 2005 affair in Gleneagles, Scotland, to offset its carbon emissions.

In addition, eco-friendly devices such as an air conditioning system using snow have been employed at the International Media Center.

Data will be gathered after the three-day summit wraps up Wednesday to determine the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that must be canceled out, the ministry said.

An estimated 2,000 delegates and 4,000 reporters have gathered in Toyako. Calculations indicate that an estimated 25,000 tons of greenhouse gases will be released through their activities, including domestic and international air flights, energy use in the media center and getting around in vehicles.

The government plans to offset the carbon emissions through credits earned from Clean Development Mechanism projects selected from among public proposals.

These include waste management for biofuel production in Indonesia, transferring energy-efficient technologies to a beer brewery in Laos and cooperating on a small hydroelectric plant project in Brazil.

The projects were chosen for their focus on conservation and social development, the ministry said. The final cost of offsetting the summit will likely be about ¥150 million, it said.

Environmental activists applauded the government's stance but questioned if the investment will in fact counterbalance all of the summit's carbon footprint.

"We welcome the action because such activity will help spread understanding about the importance of reducing carbon emissions," said Yuri Onodera, a member of the nongovernmental organization Friends of the Earth Japan.

But she said no one really knows if the credits earned through overseas projects will truly offset the summit's carbon emissions.

Japan should have invested in more observable and administrable projects, including domestic forestation ventures, Onodera said.

Meanwhile, the media center in the town of Rusutsu was built with the utmost consideration for reducing carbon emissions and is enveloped by eco-friendly features.

The air conditioning for the building, which can hold some 3,000 journalists, comes from 7,000 tons of preserved snow stocked under the facility.

Approximately 1,000 vertical holes drilled in the snow act as a cooling path for breezes from the outside. The fresh, chilled air is circulated around the facility through air ducts made of recycled cardboard.

As the snow under the facility melts, the water is used to water plants and then in toilets.

Additional cooling is provided from mist generators and natural ventilation systems.

The government says that through the snow-based air conditioning and other features, including solar panels, low-flow toilets and LED lighting, the center is producing only 40 percent of the carbon emissions that a standard facility of the same size would generate.

In addition, 95 percent of the media center building can be reused or recycled after it is pulled down.



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