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NGOs press Fukuda for midterm gas emissions goals

by Masami Ito

A strong sense of urgency regarding climate change must be communicated to the Group of Eight leaders and more than a long-term goal for cutting greenhouse gas emissions is called for, representatives of nongovernmental organizations said Thursday.

“Climate change is happening now. It’s not a thing that will happen only a long time into the future,” said Kim Carstensen, director of the global climate initiative at World Wide Fund for Nature International. “It’s here, it’s around us and it influences our daily lives already today.”

Outlining the so-called Fukuda Vision last week, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda announced Japan’s long-term initiative to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent to 80 percent by 2050. But he failed to specify any midterm goals.

“What we are missing in the Fukuda Vision is the sense of urgency,” Carstensen said at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo. “We believe that a long-term goal will not be enough. We need to have strong, clear and committed midterm goals as well.”

In a rare move, Fukuda met with representatives of domestic and international NGOs on Wednesday, including Carstensen and members of the 2008 Japan G8 Summit NGO Forum. For 90 minutes, the NGO representatives offered opinions on a wide range of topics, including the environment, poverty, human rights and peace.

In a letter to Fukuda, the NGO Forum said, “Japan must set for itself ambitious goals for reducing the greenhouse gas emissions, and give more consideration to conserving biodiversity.”

Although Fukuda avoided making any promises, participants reported he told them, “Let’s work together.”

The group also gave Fukuda a CD-ROM filled with 569,367 messages from people all over the globe expressing their wishes or hopes for the world. The gift was timed for Japan’s Tanabata star festival on July 7, which lands on the opening day of the G8 summit.

Messages included one from an elementary school student who said, “I hope polar bears will be able to survive.” Another, from a man in his 50s, expressed the hope that the G8 summit will be successful because “the future of the Earth, humanity and our lives are at stake.”