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Friday, Oct. 2, 2009

70% of Japanese back Hatoyama's CO 2 pledge: survey

Staff writer

OSAKA — Seventy percent of Japanese people support a midterm greenhouse gas reduction target of between 25 percent and 40 percent for developed countries, a survey on global warming conducted by a Danish government-backed organization says.

Japan was one of 38 countries surveyed by World Wide Views on Global Warming, a global alliance of individuals, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations and universities supported by the Danish Board of Technology, which operates under the Danish Parliament. About 4,400 people worldwide participated in the latest survey, which was released in late September.

According to the survey, 81 percent of Japanese said climate change was urgent and that a new climate deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol should be made at a U.N. conference in December at Copenhagen.

Under Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Japan has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent compared with 1990 levels by 2020 as long as developing countries also make some form of commitment.

However, the survey also indicated that compared with the United States and China, which account for between 40 percent and 50 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, fewer Japanese are worried about climate change. Only 11 percent of those in Japan said they were very concerned about climate change, as opposed to 74 percent in the U.S. and 65 percent in China. Forty-five percent of Japanese said they were fairly concerned, as opposed to 31 percent of Chinese and 21 percent of Americans.

Climatologists have warned that unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced by 2020 to between 25 percent and 40 percent of 1990 levels, it is highly likely the Earth's average temperature will climb by more than 2 degrees by the end of this century, which would lead to irreversible weather patterns and climate catastrophes. The reduction percentages and the 1990 base year will now be the subject of intense international political controversy in the remaining weeks until the Copenhagen conference.

While 70 percent of Japanese backed a 25 percent to 40 percent cut in emissions — based on an unspecified year — for developed countries, 60 percent of Chinese and 56 percent of American respondents supported cuts of this magnitude.

Under an agreement signed by nearly 190 nations in Bali in 2007, including the U.S. and Japan, developed countries must commit to specific greenhouse gas reduction percentages at Copenhagen. But developing countries like China need only offer reduction plans that are quantifiable and measurable and based on their common but differentiated responsibilities for the problems of global warming.

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The Japan Times

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