Japan on Kyoto Protocol

2011-12-05 13:06
Japan is just getting to grips with the most recent earth quake and tsunami disaster to have struck the island state resulting in an unprecedented nuclear power and pollution crisis.

As the world’s third largest economy, it has one of the most powerful voices in the current world climate debate. As such Japan's decision to not be part of any extension of the Kyoto Protocol has caused a lot of disquiet at COP 17 in Durban.

André le Roux interviews Japan’s ambassador to South Africa, Mr Toshiro Ozawa.

1. Japan is most energy efficient country in the world. Has the tsunami disaster and the closure of nuclear power stations affected its domestic policy and capacity to produce clean energy?

Eight months have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Needless to say, Japan is making its utmost efforts towards reconstruction, but here, I wish to emphasise that Japan’s commitment to actively tackle global warming is unwavering even after the tragic disaster. Japan is now formulating its new energy mix strategies and plans while continuing to take measures to tackle global warming. You may be surprised to learn that in the summer months of June to August, Japan achieved more than 15% reduction in electricity consumption in order to cope with the drop in supply in Tokyo and Tohoku areas, compared to last year.

2. Given the nuclear pollution that occurred, is Japan considering new alternatives to clean energy?

There is renewed interest in renewable energy such as solar, wind and others. In Japan, the feed-in tariff bill was enacted in August. Renewable energy introduction is expected to be further accelerated through the implementation of this act and other measures. 

3. What is Japan's position on the current standing of the Kyoto Protocol?

Compared to the 1990s when the UNFCCC (1992) and the Kyoto Protocol (1997) were adopted, the structure of the international economy has significantly changed. The share of GHG emission from emerging countries has been increasing rapidly. In addition, the United States did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, although it signed it.

As a result, the coverage of the current Kyoto Protocol over the GHG is less than 26% of overall global emissions. China (the largest emitter), the US(2nd), India (3rd) and other developing countries do not have any international obligation regarding their emissions.

Japan believes that setting the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol will not lead to the establishment of a fair and effective international framework.

On the other hand, some elements of the Kyoto protocol such as the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) should continue to be operational with necessary improvements. Japan will make positive contributions with the aim to improve on the experience of Kyoto Protocol for a new framework,

4. What should replace it?

The “Cancun Agreements” at COP 16 was agreed by both developed and developing countries with almost full coverage. Japan believes that by building upon the Cancun Agreements, the COP 17 meeting should strive to launch negotiations toward a comprehensive legal framework in which all major economies participate.

5. Is Japan willing to support the EU proposal (or any other new single framework) of a totally new roadmap towards a universal legally binding treaty by 2015 or will it follow a different course at Durban and beyond?

Japan shares its position with EU, Australia and the vulnerable countries in the sense that all of these countries seek a new comprehensive framework. By co-operating with these countries, it is important to ensure participation of other major emitters such as China and the United States. Japan will continue to actively contribute in such efforts.

6. What is Japan's position on the Green Climate Fund and what informs its policy on international development aid to Africa in particular?

Japan actively seeks expeditious early establishment of the Green Climate Fund. In July this year, Japan hosted the second meeting of the “Transitional Committee” and made significant contributions to the design process of the fund.

In addition, climate change assistance needs to be focused on the vulnerable countries such as those in Africa and the small islands States. As for Africa, Japan is now cooperating with the African countries to formulate the “African Green Growth.

Japan appreciates South Africa’s efforts to tackle climate change as articulated in the recent National Climate Change Response White Paper. From the Japanese side we are currently supporting a project to enhance capacity for prediction of climate variation in the southern African region and also a project to enhance capacity for energy policy planning. Japan intends to continue such cooperation beyond 2012.

7. What is the minimum outcome Japan expects from COP17?

The COP 17 should strive to launch negotiations toward a comprehensive legal framework in which all major economies participate, and to operationalise the Cancun Agreements. For its part, Japan will cooperate with South Africa and other countries so that the Durban meeting could be remembered as a milestone in the climate change negotiations.

- André le Roux is Media24's Africa & Foreign Desk Editor

Read more on:    unfccc  |  japan  |  cop 17  |  kyoto protocol

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