Staff writer

Ministerial-level officials from major industrialized and developing countries will hold informal talks in Tokyo on Sept. 17 and 18 in a bid to find common ground on some divisive environmental issues, government officials said Monday.

The meeting will precede a high-profile international conference on climate change by about two months. Among about two-dozen countries expected to attend the Tokyo meeting are the United States, Canada, Germany, Britain, Russia, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, the officials said.

In a news conference after a regular Cabinet meeting on June 12, Hiroshi Oki, director general of the Environment Agency, announced that Japan will host the ministerial-level talks but did not set a date.

Oki’s announcement came after an 11-day meeting of working-level officials from about 150 countries in Bonn that was called to prepare for the fourth Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

COP4 will be held in Buenos Aires from Nov. 2 to 13 to discuss issues that were left unresolved at COP3, held in Kyoto last December. Chief among the issues is the role of developing countries in reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

“To encourage developing countries to participate actively in the planned Tokyo meeting in September, Japan wants to make it an occasion to discuss a wide range of issues without focusing on the role of developing countries in the fight against global warming alone,” one senior government official said.

At the Kyoto conference, some 150 countries adopted a protocol that sets legally binding targets for industrialized countries to slash the total volume of their greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 percent from 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.

The protocol specifically calls for cuts in carbon dioxide and five other greenhouse gases; Japan agreed to a 6 percent cut, the U.S. a 7 percent reduction and the 15-nation European Union an 8 percent curb.

The Kyoto conference also agreed to introduce an emission-trading mechanism to help industrialized countries that face difficulties in meeting their reduction targets. Under that mechanism, those countries are allowed to purchase the right to emit greenhouse gases from industrialized countries that are able to make deeper cuts than required.

But details of the trading mechanism, as well as those of the so-called clean-development mechanism and joint implementation — which were also agreed upon in Kyoto — have yet to be worked out.

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