The recent negotiations in Bonn, Germany, on global warming revealed that nothing can be achieved unless a high-level political judgment is made, says attorney Mie Asaoka, executive director of Kiko Forum ’97, a coalition of Japanese environmental groups.
The forum, consisting of about 200 nongovernmental organizations, is aimed at initiating citizens’ efforts to reduce gas emissions that cause global warming. It is also designed to help bring about an effective reduction protocol at the December meeting in Kyoto of the Third Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP3.
The two-week meeting in Bonn was held in preparation for the Kyoto conference, where it is hoped some final decisions on strategies for combating global warming will emerge. The Bonn meeting produced few results, one of which was an agreement to reduce average greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2010 from the 1990 levels, to allow countries to “bank,” or carry over, surplus cuts made in the first period to the next, and to allow countries to borrow some reduction quotas from the next period.
“Negotiations were deadlocked because the negotiators only insisted on their own demands without making any effort to overcome differences,” says Asaoka, who engaged in various activities in Bonn to pressure government officials and to build a network with groups from other countries.
“The real negotiations on specific targets for reduction of greenhouse gases have not even started,” Asaoka says. The European Union has proposed that industrialized countries reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 15 percent of the 1990 levels by 2010. The U.S. wants to stabilize gas emissions at 1990 levels in the 2008-2012 period.
Japan wants flexible emissions cuts computed from a 5 percent base rate within the same period. The negotiations have grown more complex because the U.S. has demanded that developing countries also make some commitment to reduce emissions. Asaoka says the delay in negotiations is due largely to Japan’s reluctance to set its own targets.
Japan delayed discussion on specific reduction targets until it had set a framework for combating global warming that takes into account such factors as which gases should be reduced and in what time frame. But because such a framework is closely linked to the targets, the strategy has only delayed the real negotiations, Asaoka says. Japan announced its proposal Oct. 6.