Global Environment

Statement by Mr. Hiroshi Ohki, Minister of the Environment -Upon Japan's Acceptance of the Kyoto Protocol-

Hiroshi Ohki
Minister of the Environment, Japan
June 4, 2002

Having received approval from our Diet last month, the Japanese Government has formalized the acceptance of the Kyoto Protocol at today's cabinet meeting. The document of ratification will be presented to the United Nations immediately. Through the acceptance of the Protocol, Japan has reaffirmed its commitment to take a leading role in the global efforts to secure the future of humankind.

Having served as the Chair of The 3rd session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, at which the Kyoto Protocol was first hammered out, it is a source of great pleasure for me to be able to make this announcement today. I would like to take this opportunity to call on citizens of Japan and all around the world to join in this fight to halt global warming.

First of all, I wish to refer to the domestic measures Japan will undertake to curve green house emissions.

Under the Protocol, Japan has an obligation of greenhouse gas emissions reduction of 6% below 1990 levels for the first commitment period of 2008-2012.

The measures to be implemented in the coming years are enumerated in the Kyoto Protocol Achievement Plan, and I will be devoting particular effort to the following measures.

  • 1) The development of state-of-the-art technologies, and its introduction to the market through practical application is vital for the private industries and the consumers to become a leading player in our effort to combat global warming. At the same time, the Japanese government recognizes that the government itself is a major consumer, and will actively embrace the challenge and responsibilities of being a truly green consumer. Furthermore, the government will support various measures undertaken by the private industry and citizens, cognizant of the fact that measures undertaken by these groups are interlinked and mutually supportive. In particular, the national government will work to strengthen the ties between the nationally-based "Wa no Kuni Kurashi" Council, which promotes environment-friendly lifestyles, and the locally-based Climate Action Centers, councils on climate change, and individual climate action advisors as established under the Bill on Amendments of the Climate Change Policy Law. Policies to support grassroots activities which set and work towards the realization of local numerical targets for greenhouse gas reductions are now being formulated, as are policies which better enable the implementation of various measures to mitigate global warming.
  • 2) Economic measures which utilize market mechanisms, such as emissions trading and eco-tax systems are known to be effective in promoting climate change mitigation measures, and a number of countries have adopted such measures. Japan, too, will study and undertake such economic measures, starting from the ones most readily implemented, and Japan intends to be an active participant in the formulation of the rules that would govern such measures at the global level.
  • 3) Forests, which serve as carbon sinks, also play a vital role in the maintenance of both biodiversity and water resources. With the active participation of the citizenry, Japan will strengthen measures to preserve her forests, thereby enabling future generations to enjoy the many benefits that they bring to society.

As a second point, I would like to refer to our international efforts vis-a-vis climate change.

The ultimate goal of the Framework Convention on Climate Change is to stabilize the concentration of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere sufficiently to enable ecosystem adaptability, secure food production, and bring about sustainable development.

Greenhouse gas emissions and greenhouse gas atmospheric concentrations have been increasing steadily. Japan, in accepting the Protocol, has been true to its obligations as a developed country, and in so doing, has created a great impetus towards the Protocol's entry into force. The Kyoto Protocol, in establishing obligations for developed countries, is a critical first step, but it is still the first step of a long ongoing process.

  • 1) In order to promote the Protocol's early entry into force, Japan calls on Russia and other developed countries already in the process of considering ratification to ratify the Protocol as early as possible. Japan also calls on the United States of America, as the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, to rejoin the Kyoto Protocol framework.
  • 2) International negotiations regarding the second commitment period after 2013 is scheduled to begin no later than 2005. It is our hope that developing countries such as China and India become active participants in these negotiations, and the collective wisdom of the world should be utilized in order to realize this. Studies on effective measures of international cooperation with these countries and their participation should be started immediately.
  • 3) The negative effects of global warming are undeniable, and Japan intends to strengthen its scientific observation and forecast of the global warming effect. At the same time, in order to assist Pacific island nations, Himalayan region nations, and nations in higher latitudes countries which face imminent danger from global warming in the form of rising sea levels, melting glaciers and permafrost Japan intends to formulate policies which combat these adverse effects through consultation with the countries concerned and put them to practice as soon as possible.

For Japan, which is already a highly energy-efficient society, achieving the 6% reduction goal of the Kyoto Protocol is no easy task. However, Japan welcomes this challenge as an opportunity to create a new socio-economic model in which human activities coexist comfortably with the global environment. This should bring about a renewed vitality to the Japanese economy and society as it generates entirely new industries and employment opportunities, and changes the very lifestyle of the Japanese people.

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