U.N. climate chief urges Japan to slash emissions, and to shell out $1 billion


Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, has urged Japan to set an ambitious goal of emission cuts from 2020 and contribute over $1 billion to a new fund for combating global warming.

“My expectation of Japanese contributions is the same as my expectation from every other country,” Figueres said in an interview on Saturday.

Parties to the convention are required to announce their reduction targets by the end of March. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government on Friday began discussions on the matter.

Figueres also urged Japan to play an active role in the Green Climate Fund, which will be one of the major topics at the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. framework convention (COP20), to be held in December in Peru. The fund is designed to facilitate the fight against global warming in developing countries.

“Financial contribution from Japan is absolutely critical,” Figueres said, adding the world is “anxiously and eagerly waiting for the pledge from Japan.”

Referring to $1 billion pledged to the fund by each of France and Germany, Figueres said, “We will certainly expect Japan to be higher than that.

“The quicker the world moves toward a low-carbon economy, the quicker we move toward a high efficient economy,” which will lead to more demand for Japanese exports, she said.

In 2013, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe committed to spending about $16 billion over the following three years to help developing countries find ways to mitigate the impact of climate change. But he stopped short of mentioning the amount of funds Tokyo will be putting up for the Green Climate Fund, set up to support developing countries.

Japan is struggling to rein in its own emissions of greenhouse gases after all nuclear plants were shut down following the Fukushima nuclear crisis stemming from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami and prompted a shutdown of all the nation’s 48 commercial reactors.

The increased use of fossil fuels to compensate for the lost electricity supply has undone much of the progress the country had made in cutting carbon emissions.

But there is still uncertainty about the timing of nuclear reactor restarts.

At COP19 held in Warsaw last November, Japan set a goal of reducing emissions by 3.8 percent by fiscal 2020 from the fiscal 2005 base year, drawing criticism from various countries for backpedaling on its previous pledge to cut 25 percent from a fiscal 1990 base year.

Coronavirus banner