26 May, 2003

Interim report (draft) of the Global Environment Subcommittee disregards both the scientific trends of climate change and the Kyoto Protocol

Mie Asaoka
President, Kiko Network

On May 26, the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry's (METI) Global Environment Subcommittee of the Environment Committee, Industrial Structure Council, released an interim report (draft) of its discussions regarding an international framework for climate change after the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol (beginning in 2013). The ministry is now soliciting public comment on the report.

Kiko Network believes there are major problems with the direction that the discussions have been taking thus far. In regard to further discussions, we demand the committee to make a drastic change of stance on the assumption that the next step of emissions reductions must be higher than those set by the Kyoto Protocol.The Global Environment Subcommittee's arguments are:

The report ignores how serious the consequences of climate change will be

The report is not discussed based on predicted model of climate change and does not take into account of what degree of emission reductions are necessary over what time period in order to curb climate change. Likewise, the Subcommittee proceeds to seek the way to set the burden sharing for each country without first giving regard to the seriousness of climate change and the urgent need for action to prevent climate change. The Subcommittee does not even hold in common with us what should be an obvious starting point for discussion of further framework - that the next step will in fact require even more drastic reductions. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change holds that the メultimate objectiveモ (Article 2) is stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.モ It is common knowledge that in order to do so, drastic cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases are a must. Proceeding without serious consideration of the long-term reduction targets necessary for climate change prevention will only result in an unsatisfactory one-sided approach.

The report ignores the U.N. process and the results of the Kyoto Protocol negotiations

The interim report overemphasizes the shortcomings of the Kyoto Protocol and its alleged inefficiency from an economic standpoint. The report also outlines an approach for after the second commitment period that will not necessarily be based on the Protocol, but instead returns the debate to square one. It attempts to nullify the importance of the UN process, which to a certain degree guarantees the equitable participation of global nations, and of the accumulated successes of intensive Kyoto negotiations. Additionally, the draft backs an approach in which various measures are adopted according to sector, rather than setting targets on individual country basis. The report proposes an approach as if the major emitters of greenhouse gases exclusively lead future debate and decide the future direction of policies related in reduction of greenhouse gases.
The Kyoto Protocol is a product of compromise, but is also the result of 10 years of international negotiations during which all conceivable arguments were considered. It is the only international framework for approaching the climate change issue, having the consensus of 186 countries including developing nations. As we consider the next steps to be taken, we base such discussion on the Protocol. By doing so, we can promote wide-ranging debate while working for the participation of the United States and for active efforts from the developing countries, thus addressing the Protocol's shortcomings and increasing its overall effectiveness. Approaching the next step by returning the debate to its starting point before the Kyoto Protocol, we are afraid of running the risk of being unable to guarantee any sort of progress. The consequences could result in a step backward for climate change prevention as a whole.

No consideration of more drastic reductions for Japan

Most of the committee members (who are almost entirely industry representatives) desire a framework in easily achievable target for reducing greenhouse gases. It is immediately apparent that they aim to maintain the existing socio-economic model of mass energy consumption for as long as possible, hoping to profit along the way.
This type of debate, centered on the short-term and seeking profit for certain industrial interests, sacrifices the global environment while completely ignoring issues of equity for future generations and developing countries.
As the world's fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases, Japan has a responsibility to act in the face of climate change. For the next step of reductions, it will be necessary to make large cuts based on clearly defined reduction targets. It is imperative that all future debates reaffirm this as a common understanding.
In further discussions, it will be necessary to adopt a long-term view and make drastic changes in the approach, based on the premise that aggressive measures must be taken and reduction targets must be greater yet than those in the Kyoto Protocol.
Also, considering the seriousness of the issue, it is highly problematic that the direction of government policy is being debated in a committee composed nearly exclusively of members representing industry. It is essential that all government agencies make efforts to include environmental NGOs and other informed parties in such discussions, providing a wider perspective and advancing the debate in a meaningful manner.

For more information contact:

Kiko Network Tokyo office
2nd Floor Hanzomon Woodfield
2-7-3 Kojimachi
Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
102-0083 Japan
Tel: 81-3-3263-9210, Fax: 81-3-3263-9463
E-mail: tokyo@kikonet.org