National

G-7 ministers head to Toyama to build on Paris climate pact

by Miya Tanaka

Kyodo

Environment ministers from the Group of Seven nations will start a two-day meeting Sunday in Toyama Prefecture to discuss global warming and other issues, building on momentum from the landmark climate deal reached in Paris last year.

At the gathering in the city of Toyama overlooking the Sea of Japan, the participants are expected to push for early ratification of the Paris Agreement and express their resolve to attain a set of new U.N. goals to ensure sustainable development, combat poverty and protect the planet, Japanese officials said.

Noting it will be the first G-7 environment minister meeting after last year’s major progress on the climate change and sustainable development agendas, Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa said last month that she wants to affirm with her counterparts that “this is a year to put (the promises) into action.”

On the Paris Agreement, which will create a long-sought framework committing all countries to rein in greenhouse gas emissions, the ministers will aim to come up with a “strong message focusing on the implementation of ambitious measures” to tackle global warming, the officials said.

Moves toward the agreement’s entry into force have gotten off to a good start, with the signatories already exceeding 170 countries in a sign of their intention to launch domestic preparations to ratify the deal.

The signatories include China, the world’s largest emitter, and all G-7 members, namely Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United States and the European Union. The Paris Agreement will enter into force following the ratification by at least 55 nations, accounting for an estimated 55 percent of global emissions.

All countries are obliged to set their own emissions reduction targets for the post-2020 period and take domestic measures accordingly. They are also expected to provide progressively more ambitious targets every five years, while there is no penalty for those missing their goals.

But emissions cut pledges made by countries so far are said to fall short of a critical goal of limiting the global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees above preindustrial levels, leading environmental groups in Japan to urge the G-7 to take the lead in the issue by updating their initial targets before the envisioned start date of the agreement.

The implementation of the Paris deal is also expected to help countries achieve the 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, many of which involve taking action on climate change, which could affect food and water security and roll back the development gains.

During the ministerial meeting, participants are expected to affirm how they are working on the issue and the need to continue to take action, the officials said.

Other issues on the agenda are the increasing role of cities in addressing global warming and ways to efficiently use resources such as by reducing waste and recycling.

The Environment Ministry also hopes to use the occasion to also inform Japan’s G-7 partners of the progress seen toward recovery from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster that started in 2011 as it leads radiation cleanup efforts in areas outside the crippled plant, officials said.

The gathering in Toyama Prefecture is part of a series of G-7 ministerial talks leading up to the May 26 to 27 summit to be held in Mie Prefecture.

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