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Sunday, Dec. 13, 2009


Japan objects to climate summit draft proposal

Outline seen penalizing Kyoto signatories

Staff writer

COPENHAGEN, Asia's battle: Page 3 — Japan objected to a draft proposal released Friday at the COP15 climate negotiations, saying that it would give the United States, which opted out of the Kyoto Protocol, a free pass to increase its carbon dioxide emissions beyond 2012 and penalize nations such as Japan that have already ratified the pact.

In addition, the draft proposal does not ask enough of developing nations, a Japanese spokesman said. The proposal, released Friday morning after five straight days of negotiations, comes as senior ministers began arriving in Copenhagen for final negotiations this week.

The six-page official draft calls on developed countries to undertake legally binding nationally appropriate mitigation commitments. It offers four possibilities for quantified reductions ranging from 25 percent to 45 percent compared to 1990 levels.

It also allows developed countries that have not ratified the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to remain out of it, meaning that if they do not meet their stated reduction targets, they will not be penalized.

Developing countries would also be obligated to undertake nationally appropriate mitigation actions. However, they would be given the option of choosing emissions reduction targets ranging between 15 percent and 30 percent by 2020 relative to those emissions that would occur if no mitigation action was in place. These reduction targets are voluntary, not mandatory.

"The draft as it is will not lead to an effective solution for decreasing global emissions worldwide and creates an imbalance between developed and developing countries. It's difficult to say this is a fair agreement," said Makio Miyagawa, deputy director general for global issues at Japan's Foreign Ministry, adding that other developed countries in the European Union shared Tokyo's position.

Compared to previous drafts, Friday's document is more in line with the Bali road map, agreed to by all countries at the 2007 U.N. climate change conference in Bali and the basis for which a new agreement at Copenhagen is supposed to be reached.

The Bali road map does not commit developing countries to specific percentage reduction targets, but says they must take measurable, reportable and verifiable mitigation actions based on common but differentiated responsibilities from developed countries.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei said China's recent announcement to reduce its carbon intensity, the amount of carbon dioxide emitted per unit of gross domestic product, was a domestic decision, but will be carried out regardless of what happens in Copenhagen.

Japan, the EU and the U.S. all want major developing nations like China to agree to include domestic targets in a legally binding agreement to ensure compliance, but China has refused, saying they do not have to go under the Bali accord.

"China's commitment on emissions, though voluntary, is unconditional. It's in full accord with the Bali Action Plan and we will have a legal framework for domestic monitoring in place," He said.

He also sharply criticized comments made a few days ago by U.S. climate envoy Todd Stern, who said that when it came to funding for climate mitigation and adaptation in developing countries, no U.S. funds would go to China.

"We're not asking for donations. Developed nations, including the U.S., have a legal obligation to provide funds. I think the U.S. negotiator lacked common sense when he made such comments vis-a-vis funds for China, or was extremely irresponsible," He said, adding, however, that small island states in the Pacific facing the most immediate dangers from climate change should receive priority for funding.

In response, Stern said he stood behind his words but added he was talking only about public funds and that private funding for China's climate mitigation was a different matter.

Stern also gave the new draft mixed reviews, saying that while it was a constructive step toward an eventual agreement, the language regarding developing countries obligations was not acceptable.

"The draft says developed countries have legally binding commitments to take Kyoto-style targets but does not call upon developing countries to set forth their own actions or stand behind them. This is a basic element of a deal for the U.S.," Stern told reporters Friday afternoon.

"There is no question developed countries are historically responsible for the rise in emissions. But it's also true that 97 percent of future emissions are going to come from developing countries, according to the International Energy Agency, particularly the big countries," Stern said.

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The Japan Times

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