More domestic efforts urged to halt global warming

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OTSU, Shiga Pref. — Citizens’ groups gathered here Saturday from all over the world urged Group of Eight environment leaders to make greater efforts to promote domestic measures for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

They also expressed concern over loopholes in the Kyoto Protocol, which requires, among other things, industrialized countries to cut such emissions by 5.2 percent of 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.

Participants in the symposium organized by Japanese environmental group Kiko Network criticized lack of political leadership by G8 countries when the adverse effects of global warming are already apparent.

“While natural disasters such as cyclones and floods believed to have been caused by climate change are resulting in thousands of refugees in such countries as India and Bangladesh, industrialized countries have taken few steps to reduce the gases that cause global warming,” said Yuri Onodera, a representative of Friends of the Earth Japan.

“A 5.2 percent cut in greenhouse gases by industrialized countries is far from sufficient, but the environment ministers are trying to weaken the protocol,” she said.

Environmental groups claim that emissions trading and the clean development mechanism would help industrialized countries achieve their targets without doing much to reduce emissions at home.

Emission trading allows those falling behind their targets to buy emissions cuts from nations that have been able to do more than required.

The clean development mechanism would allow industrialized nations to receive credits by financing clean-air projects in developing countries.

Industrialized countries are urging developing countries to take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions when they should be taking the lead in such cuts and promoting the transfer of technology, said Sam Ferrer, executive director of Green Forum in the Philippines.

Kiko Network representatives criticized the Japanese government’s lack of effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, saying it is possible for Japan to achieve the 6 percent cut by simply changing its energy policy.

At a luncheon meeting with delegation members, representatives of nongovernmental organizations made various demands.

“There is no alternative for Japan except to ratify the protocol, so it should be one of the countries to spearhead the ratification effort,” said Mie Asaoka on behalf of Kiko Network.

Jennifer Morgan, director of the World Wide Fund for Nature’s climate change campaign, urged delegates to keep the protocol strong while making it acceptable to all countries.

“We feel that the future of the Kyoto Protocol will be determined at COP6,” she said, referring to the Sixth Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change slated for November.

Other domestic NGOs spoke about the nation’s history of pollution and environmental issues tied to the U.S. military bases in Okinawa Prefecture.

Environmental issues tied to the U.S. bases need to be better publicized, said Jun Ui of the Okinawa Environmental Network and a professor at Okinawa University.

In return for hosting the bases, Okinawa will receive a massive injection of funds for public works projects, which will only lead to more environmental destruction, he said.

“We don’t know what kind of chemicals and other dangerous substances are being emitted from the bases or are located in the (Futenma) base that is soon to be returned,” he said.