• Kyodo


The U.N. environment summit on Saturday accepted Japan’s proposal urging promotion of the ratification of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol to curb global warming.

“States that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol strongly urge states that have not already done so to ratify the Kyoto Protocol in a timely manner,” says the action plan.

Government leaders intend to adopt the Plan of Implementation on the final day of talks for the 10-day U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.

“The text is a result of having worked to gain agreement from the United States, which has withdrawn from the Kyoto Protocol, without embarrassing them,” Japanese Environment Minister Hiroshi Oki said.

“I think Japan, which promotes putting the protocol into effect, has been able to play its role,” added Oki.

The initial draft of the implementation plan stated that governments should renew their pledge “to make every effort to ensure the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.”

The U.S., however, has opposed that wording.

The Kyoto pact, which calls for slashing greenhouse-gas emissions from developed countries, will only enter into force 90 days after being ratified by 55 states that represent at least 55 percent of industrialized countries’ carbon dioxide emissions in 1990.

The U.S., the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitter, has rejected the protocol, and President George W. Bush is not attending the summit.

Earlier Saturday, the Group of 77, a coalition of U.N.-member developing countries, proposed alternative wording on the issue of energy for the draft implementation plan, several negotiation sources said.

The proposal, put forward at a ministerial-level meeting, excludes numerical targets for increasing the global share of renewable energy sources.

Ministers from around the world are striving to complete a draft of the implementation plan before the Monday start of meetings among top government leaders.

The setting of numerical targets for increasing the global share of renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, has faced opposition from Japan and the U.S. at the summit.

The draft proposes increasing the the share of renewable energy sources in relation to nonrenewable sources to increase their contribution to total energy consumption. The draft recognizes the role of national and voluntary regional targets where they exist.

The European Union has insisted on increasing the global share of renewable energy sources. It aims to boost the share to 15 percent of the total primary energy supply by 2010, by including such sources as large-scale hydroelectric power generation.

Norway and Brazil, among other countries, had earlier proposed increasing the global share of renewable energy sources to 10 percent of the total primary energy supply by 2010.

Koizumi to join meet

Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi left Japan on Sunday for Johannesburg to participate in the World Summit on Sustainable Development.

He departed Tokyo’s Haneda airport aboard a government airplane shortly before 5 p.m. and is scheduled to arrive in South Africa’s largest city, via Hong Kong, on Monday morning local time.

Koizumi will deliver a policy speech at a summit-level meeting and hold talks with South African President Thabo Mbeki and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan during his stay at the largest-ever conference organized by the United Nations.

The prime minister is expected to stress Japan’s contribution to sustainable development as developed countries and developing countries tussle over funds, trade rules and other contentious issues.

In his policy speech, Koizumi plans to present a blueprint centered around a medium- to long-term human-development plan, government officials said.

Specifics of the blueprint include a $30 million food aid program for sub-Saharan countries and a program to develop human resources to tackle environmental issues.

“Environment protection and economic development can coexist,” the prime minister said earlier. “I’ll present Japan’s successes and failures to drive home how Japan has strived to overcome its past pollution damage.”

A senior Foreign Ministry official said of the words Koizumi intends to deliver this week, “Reactions from developing countries have been positive.

“With U.S. President George W. Bush conspicuously absent (from the conference), Koizumi’s participation will have a profound meaning.”

One area where Koizumi may face flak, however, is the country’s sharply shrinking outlays for developmental aid due to its falling tax revenues. The aid budget is likely to continue to face cuts in the next fiscal year, which begins in April.

While Koizumi is expected to tout Japan’s plans to assist self-help efforts and human development at the conference, critics say the difficulty of increasing the budget for such efforts may reduce its appeal in the eyes of poorer countries.

Donations may drop

JOHANNESBURG (Kyodo) Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi met Saturday with the head of the U.N. Development Program and explained Japan’s tight fiscal conditions in terms of the nation’s contribution to the program, Japanese officials said.

Kawagushi told UNDP Administrator Mark Malloch Brown at Ubuntu Village that Japan will determine its stance on its UNDP contribution after reviewing the UNDP’S activities. Ubuntu Village is a special exhibition site for the ongoing U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.

Brown asked Kawaguchi to see to it that Japan’s contribution to UNDP is not reduced.

Kawaguchi was quoted as saying, “The current situation does not warrant any optimism since a watchful eye is being kept also on the (use of) official development assistance.”

Kawaguchi thanked Brown for his efforts to hire Japanese staff and said, “We appreciate the efforts and are hoping to see you continue to do so.”

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