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The World Wide Fund for Nature has called on Japanese businesses to establish a council to fight global climate change and take a leading role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions before a key conference in December in Kyoto.

The appeal was made at the the Second WWF Japan Corporate Supporter’s Meeting Business Symposium in Tokyo July 7. To facilitate a reduction in greenhouse gases, the WWF also announced at the meeting that it will sponsor a study by Japanese scientists, based on a similar survey conducted in Europe, to determine how to implement emissions-reduction policies.

The WWF hopes to have the survey published before the the third U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change at the end of the year and present concrete numerical goals for emission cuts. The business community has a vital role to play in the emissions-reduction process and it is in its interest to promote new energy-efficient technologies, said Andrew Kerr, European coordinator for the WWF’s Climate Change Campaign.

Becoming more efficient and relying on more sustainable forms of energy can be cost-effective and create new jobs, as well as help the environment, said keynote speaker Dr. Ad van Wijk of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. “In this way you do not harm the economy to protect the environment,” said Wijk, who directed the WWF-sponsored survey on policies and measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions up to 2005.

The symposium, subtitled “Climate Change: Industry Has the Key to the Solution,” featured reports from representatives of the European and U.S. Business Councils for a Sustainable Energy Future, commentary by representatives of three Japanese companies and a keynote address on a survey conducted in the European Union to create policies and measures for emissions reduction. “Being involved makes business sense,” said Reiner Konig of AEG Domestic Appliances, a subsidiary of Electrolux of Germany, representing the EU business council.

“The ultimate purpose of our proactive environment strategy is to create shareholder value,” Konig said, noting that his company has adopted a number of new methods that help the environment and save the company money. Konig, as well as the American business council representative, Terence H. Thorn of Enron Corp., both recommended the creation of a Japanese business council on sustainable energy to establish concrete targets, timetables and transfer knowledge internationally on how best to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

The European Union has proposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the 1990 levels by 7.5 percent by 2000 and 15 percent by 2010. Japan and other industrialized countries have made a nonbinding agreement to stabilize their carbon dioxide emissions at 1990 levels, but Japan, among other nations, has yet to release concrete objectives beyond 2000.

At the Kyoto convention, Japan and 165 signatory nations will meet and set goals for reducing carbon dioxide emissions after 2000. Japan is being urged to exert leadership as the host country. The WWF, a Switzerland-based private conservation organization, is calling on industrialized countries to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent by 2005 and on the Japanese government to put forth concrete proposals for such emissions prior to the Kyoto summit.

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