Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto indicated Oct. 23 that the U.S. proposal for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions is too lenient.Environment Agency chief Hiroshi Oki, who is scheduled to chair the Kyoto global-warming conference in December, said it would be difficult to build an international consensus based on the U.S. plan. Washington’s plan, announced Oct. 22, would require the U.S. and other industrialized nations to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and other gases that trap heat in the atmosphere to 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.Hashimoto told reporters that he appreciates President Bill Clinton’s efforts that resulted in announcing the plan just before an international negotiators meeting in Bonn, adding that he knows how it is difficult to form a national consensus on the issue. “But we think that there might be more room for the U.S. to make further efforts,” Hashimoto said.Chief Cabinet Secretary Kanezo Muraoka said Tokyo expects Washington to make further efforts for cuts because the U.S. is responsible for producing as much as 22 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases. “The U.S. has emitted 2.1 times more carbon dioxide than Japan on a per capita basis and has emitted the substance 2.3 times more than our country in terms of gross domestic product,” Muraoka said at a regularly scheduled news conference.The top government spokesman also repeated Japan’s criticism that the European Union’s ambitious target calling for a 15 percent reduction from the 1990 level is unrealistic. He urged the EU to take a flexible stance and negotiate with the rest of the world for an achievable goal.Muraoka said it is unclear whether all EU members would comply with the EU proposal. He added that it is also unfair because it would require non-EU affiliates to meet the goal while it allows flexibility for its own members.Acknowledging Japan’s responsibility as the host nation of the upcoming conference on global warming, Muraoka said that Tokyo will make every effort to work out an international consensus. “The prime minister has sent letters to President Clinton and (European Commission President) Jacques Santer to cooperate with each other and with Japan to form a consensus based on Japan’s proposal of a 5 percent reduction target,” Muraoka said.Japan’s proposal has met with strong criticism from environmentalists as well as EU members as being too weak and full of loopholes. The Third Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is scheduled to be held in Kyoto for 10 days starting Dec. 1.

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