Third in a series

Staff writer

Industrialized nations must demonstrate vigorous leadership in combating global warming by boosting their efforts at home before insisting on participation by developing countries in an international effort to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, according to Ritt Bjerregaard, European commissioner for the environment.

Recollecting the success of the Third Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP3) in Kyoto last December, Bjerregaard stressed the need for the parties to keep up the momentum of Kyoto in order to “get results out” of the upcoming COP4 meetings in Buenos Aires in November.

In Kyoto, some 150 signatory nations to the U.N. convention endorsed a significant protocol that sets legally binding targets for industrialized countries to cut the combined volume of their greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 5.2 percent between 2008 and 2012.

Hailing a positive atmosphere in preparatory talks held last Thursday and Friday in Tokyo, Bjerregaard told The Japan Times that delegates from 22 countries and the European Union agreed to have an action plan, which details concrete measures to implement the Kyoto protocol, and a time frame for the plan’s implementation. They also agreed to develop flexible mechanisms by which developed and developing countries can collaborate in achieving the legally binding targets when the convention parties meet in Buenos Aires.

“We didn’t try to reach an agreement during this preparatory meeting, but tried to understand each other to work more closely,” she said.

“Developing countries are very eager to see (our) domestic actions,” she said. “Part of what we were talking about during the meeting was how to make clear the developed countries’ efforts at home” in order to ward off some developing countries’ suspicions that advanced countries are only trying to take them on board without making efforts themselves.

“We (the developed countries) created the climate problems so we all have to show some leadership and take some actions ourselves,” she stressed.

This stance is in stark contrast to that of the United States, which has insisted on the need for positive involvement of developing countries in the Kyoto framework before it signs the protocol.

As for any “misunderstanding” the EU created with regard to the use of flexible mechanisms such as emissions trading, which enables interested parties to swap the right to emit greenhouse gases to achieve their individual cutback targets, Bjerregaard repeated that the EU is “absolutely interested in trade.”

“We just want to be sure that this (trade) is not an excuse for not doing what you need to do in your own countries … and want to use all the flexible mechanisms” for trade, joint implementation of projects in which industrialized countries together achieve their targets, and clean development whereby developed and developing nations cooperate to meet targets and achieve sustainable industrial growth.

To this end, Bjerregaard said she wants the flexible arrangements to be monitored and verifiable through clear rules and measures of compliance.

Bjerregaard said “a few more COPs will be needed” for the convention parties to narrow their differences of opinions about issues such as to what extent the three flexible mechanisms will be implemented and how much each country should do domestically.

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