National / Politics

G-7 environment ministers vow to take lead role in delivering Paris climate deal

Kyodo

Environment ministers and representatives from the Group of Seven nations expressed their resolve Monday to take a leading role in implementing the landmark climate accord reached last year.

In a communique that summarized two days of discussions in the city of Toyama, the participants agreed to push for adoption of the Paris climate accord and to bring forward the schedule for the submission of their mid-century, long-term strategies to tackle global warming before the 2020 deadline.

“As for the Paris Agreement, we were able to affirm our strong political will that the G-7 will take the lead toward implementing measures to tackle climate change,” Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa, who chaired the two-day meeting, said at a joint news conference with the other participants.

It was the first gathering of G-7 environment ministers since nearly 200 nations agreed at the U.N. conference on climate change in Paris in December to create a long-sought framework to involve every country in reining in greenhouse gas emissions.

While welcoming the fact that more than 170 countries have already signed the agreement, the G-7 members expressed determination “to show leadership with early and steady implementation” of promises to curb heat-trapping gas emissions, according to the communique.

All G-7 members — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, as well as the European Union — have signed the agreement as well as China, the world’s largest emitter. The accord will enter into force following the ratification by at least 55 nations accounting for an estimated 55 percent of global emissions.

The ministers also said they recognize the importance of the G-7’s “leading efforts” to developing long-term strategies for curbing emissions as requested under the accord and vowed to submit the strategies to the United Nations “as soon as possible and well within the schedule” reached at Paris.

To limit the global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees above preindustrial levels to avert the more serious impacts of climate change, countries are obligated to set their own emissions cut targets for the post-2020 period and are also urged to communicate by 2020 to the United Nations what are called long-term low greenhouse gas emission development strategies.

With populations increasingly concentrated in urban areas, the G-7 members pointed to the “growing importance of the role” that cities can play in addressing climate change and called on national governments to help cities act through sharing information about successful innovation and other methods.

The environmental ministers also adopted a set of actions to promote the efficient use of resources, including recycling waste generated from natural disasters, under what they called the Toyama Framework on Material Cycles.

The framework touches on the need to promote reduction of food waste as the G-7 countries pursue new global goals to ensure sustainable development, adopted at a U.N. summit last September, which include halving per capita global food waste by 2030.

According to the United Nations, an estimated one-third of all food produced — equivalent to 1.3 billion tons worth around $1 trillion — ends up rotting in the bins of consumers and retailers, or spoiling due to poor transportation and harvesting practices.

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