No new binding Kyoto Protocol targets: Japan

Kyodo

Japan will refuse to accept fresh binding targets for reducing developed countries’ greenhouse gas emissions under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, the world’s only legally binding framework for reining in heat-trapping gases, government officials said Tuesday.

Japan will continue to seek a new framework that would require not only developed countries but all major gas-emitting nations to reduce emissions, the officials said.

The administration of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda took the decision at a ministerial meeting Tuesday on climate change after nearly 200 countries across the globe started talks in Durban, South Africa, on Monday to discuss the fight against global warming.

In the 17th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP17, Japan will seek support from other participants for its stance of providing financial and technological assistance to help developing countries reduce emissions, the officials said.

Noda said in addressing Tuesday’s ministerial meeting that Japan will strongly press its consistent position of seeking a single legally binding framework on global warming, instructing the ministers present to make utmost efforts to help achieve progress in the world’s fight against climate change.

Besides Noda, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura and Environment Minister Goshi Hosono were among the ministers present at the ministerial meeting.

On Tuesday, the government also outlined plans to achieve low-carbon growth at home and abroad, regardless of whether the international community can create a new framework to fight against climate change.

Under “Japan’s Vision and Actions toward Low-Carbon Growth and a Climate-Resilient World,” the government will focus on three approaches: the development of innovative low-carbon technologies, the establishment of a new market mechanism to curb emissions and support for developing countries.

“The vision was created to show Japan’s commitment to tackling climate change in practical terms,” an official said.

Among other policies, the government said it will aim to launch a bilateral offset credit mechanism in 2013 under which Japan will get emissions rights from developing countries in exchange for providing them with energy-saving technologies.

The biggest issue facing COP17 is how to avoid a so-called blank period following the expiration in December 2012 of current binding targets for developed countries to cut their greenhouse gas emissions.

The Kyoto Protocol requires only developed countries to cut emissions by at least 5 percent from 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012, a time frame known as the first commitment period.

Under the pact, Japan is required to reduce emissions by 6 percent while the European Union members’ goal is 8 percent.

The world’s biggest gas emitters are the United States and China. The United States, which was required to cut emissions by 7 percent under the pact, has never ratified the Kyoto Protocol, while developing countries, particularly China, have no obligation to cut emissions.

Some developing countries are calling for a second commitment period under the Kyoto pact to require developed countries to make further reductions. In contrast, developed countries are demanding a new framework.

The Kyoto Protocol came into force in February 2005 after Japan and the European Union members ratified it.