NEW YORK — Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto on June 23 urged industrialized countries to take the initiative in combating climate change problems by creating green technologies and disseminating them to developing nations.
He made the appeal in a speech to the special United Nations General Assembly session on the environment, which opened the same day with the participation of leaders and envoys from about 170 nations. The text of the speech was pre-released to the media. In the speech, however, Hashimoto did not go much beyond what was agreed to on June 22 by the Group of Seven industrialized nations plus Russia at the Denver summit.
Hashimoto called for cooperation so that a conference on climate change to be held in December in Kyoto will end successfully. “At the Denver summit, the eight countries agreed that they intend to commit to meaningful, realistic and equitable targets that will result in reductions of greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2010,” he said. “Let us also demonstrate, as the general will of the United Nations, our firm commitment to the success of the Kyoto conference.”
Under the Framework Convention on Climate Change signed at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, signatory nations are scheduled to decide by how much and in what time frame industrialized nations will reduce carbon dioxide and other green house gases after 2000. The U.N. General Assembly’s special session, which has been dubbed the “Earth Summit Plus 5,” is intended to review implementation of measures adopted in Rio.
The U.N. meeting, which runs until June 27, will also feature speeches by Secretary General Kofi Annan and General Assembly President Razali Ismail, as well as other world leaders who attended the Denver summit. Hashimoto said that to reduce global warming over the longer term, all countries need to tackle the issue.
To this end, Japan invites industrialized countries to develop and spread “green technology” that helps mitigate climate-change concerns, he said. Green technologies include energy-saving technologies, non-fossil fuel technologies and carbon dioxide sequestration technologies. Hashimoto also said Japan will continue to extend official development assistance in the field of the environment into the 21st century. Tokyo has extended about $13 billion in such aid to developing countries over the past five years.
While Hashimoto’s speech emphasized Japan’s resolve to make the December conference successful, observers said that by merely repeating the agreement reached at the Denver summit he failed to demonstrate the initiative expected of a host country. While the word “reduction” used by the summit leaders may sound like a step forward in global efforts to cut greenhouse gases, the summit leaders failed to specify the year on which the reduction is based.
Under the Framework Convention on Climate Change, industrialized countries pledged to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by 2000. Since then, the 1990 levels have been considered by negotiators as the base for cuts in such emissions. However, in Denver, the United States reportedly opposed spelling out the year on which reductions should be based. Experts say it would bring controversy to future negotiations if the U.S. really means to change the base year.