Japan Environment Quarterly -Vol.2 No.4 November 1997-
by Minister Hiroshi Ohki
According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the final objective of the treaty is the "stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system." It is at this historic juncture that Japan will host the third session of the Conference of the Parties (COP3) to the UNFCCC, taking the first step along a very long and arduous pathway. This conference is the result of the "Berlin Mandate" produced in 1995 by the meeting of the first Conference of the Parties. It is a meeting destined to have an extremely significant influence on the future of our globe.
Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto spoke at the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) last June, pointing out that at a minimum, atmospheric concentrations of CO2 must be lowered by the year 2100 to levels roughly double those prior to the industrial revolution; to do this, per capita CO2 emissions must be less than one ton per year. Current figures place that figure at approximately 3.6 tons per person in developed countries - the very countries which should take the lead in preserving our planet. Economical growth with reduction of emissions from current energy sources is a difficult task requiring a unified community of nations with utmost effort by every country.
We will require a series of new and effective social and technological breakthroughs. Japan has been implementing programs that raise citizen awareness of global warming and helping households find ways to save energy in daily life.
At the corporate level, I have confidence that safer and more efficient ways of producing and using energy will be invented. To encourage changes at the individual and corporate levels, governments will have to consider a whole array of policies and new financial incentives. Environmentally-friendly energy options will also have to become available for developing countries, otherwise the CO2 savings of developed countries will be exhausted by expanding energy consumption of developing economies. It is for this reason that Japan advocated a new Green Initiative at the June Special Session of the United Nations. Under this program Green Technology and Green Aid will be extended to the countries that need them most.
Before we can go further, we must reach a meaningful, realistic and equitable agreement at the Kyoto Conference. The agenda is clear. We must agree on quantified reduction targets. In addition, we must consider policy measures that may be employed in achieving these reduction targets. We must also address the future participation of developing countries in the effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The path that we must take to prevent global warming is a long and difficult one. As we prepare to take the first historical step at the Kyoto Conference, we are moved by the seriousness of the problem before us. We must strive to reach common ground, working hand-in-hand as part of the larger community of humankind.
On behalf of the host country, I promise to give every effort so that we may reach our goals. Let us shape an agreement which bequeaths a beautiful and bountiful planet to our children and all generations to follow.
Hiroshi Ohki was appointed Minister of State, Director General of the Environmental Agency in September of this year by Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. Minister Ohki was first elected to the Upper House of the Japanese Diet in 1980, and has served as Parliamentary Vice-Minister for the Ministry of International Trade and Industry and Chair of the Committee on Commerce and Industry. Minister Ohki joined the Diet after a long and distinguished Foreign Service Career, with senior postings including Geneva and the United States.
In recent years, Japan's energy use has increased in the household and transportation sectors, while net industry energy use is essentially unchanged from 1973 levels despite significant growth in Japan's economy. The primary EA strategy to combat global warming therefore focuses on developing an environmentally-friendly lifestyle, using well-funded citizen education campaigns, and green-purchasing programs.
In preparation for the Kyoto Conference, the EA has been using the heightened press coverage to launch several climate change related public awareness campaigns. Buoyed by strong citizen interest, the EA together with local governments, universities and private research organizations, has jointly sponsored well attended regional seminars aimed at educating the public about the issues surrounding global warming.
Citizens in Japan want to be part of a global solution. One of the high-profile EA-sponsored public-awareness programs leading up to the Kyoto Conference is a national pledge campaign. Known as "Eco-Life," the campaign is encouraging one million people to dedicate themselves to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by changing common lifestyle decisions.
In a related pilot project directed by the EA, local government and citizens in the Setagaya Ward of Tokyo are demonstrating lifestyle decisions and their impact on climate change. This program is being undertaken during the month of November, and the results will form the basis of a national efforts to encourage household level decisions that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Supporting environmentally-friendly lifestyle activities are the EA's green purchasing programs. Initiated by the EA, perhaps the best known is the "Eco-Mark" program, an environmental labeling program which screens products against specific environmental and energy consumption criteria. Currently, approximately 2000 products meet the criteria and proudly display the Eco-Mark label, helping consumers include environmental considerations in their choices. Working with citizen groups and non-profit organizations is also a priority of the EA. In an exciting, grassroots action the EA is promoting an NGO effort to raise public awareness by encouraging citizens from all over Japan to join in a direct appeal to world leaders. Participants are now riding their bicycles in a relay throughout Japan, on their way to Kyoto. In a historic and compelling symbol of Japan's desire for action to stop climate change, riders will converge on the city on November 30th, one day before the opening of the Kyoto Conference.
Thinking Globally, while Acting Locally
Local government officials are gaining a greater understanding of global environmental issues, and their impact on local communities.
Recently, local governments in Japan have begun to describe their programs and priorities in terms of global environmental issues. Global warming has emerged as the single most important global environmental issue identified by local governments, according to this year's Japan Environment Agency survey of local initiatives. Local initiatives address the everyday issues of modern life, such as trash, automobiles and the use of electricity in the home.
COMMUNITY LEVEL ACTION WITH GLOBAL IMPLICATIONS
An example of this sort of activity is the Hyogo Prefecture ordinance restricting lengthy idling of vehicle engines. Taxis and delivery vans are commonly seen sitting for long periods of time, all the while running their engines - often while the driver takes a nap. Idling was identified at the local level as contributing to CO2 emissions, and the prefectural government instituted a large fine and clearly defined it as illegal behavior. Perhaps most importantly, the prefecture has funded a carefully planned public awareness campaign to change people's habits.
In response to the growing awareness at the local government level, the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) was formed in May 1990 as a deliberative body of local governments that are tackling the issue of global environmental preservation. Participating local governments in Japan have hosted ICLEI activities, including a 1995 summit hosted by Japan's Saitama Prefecture. Summit participants approved the "Saitama Declaration," urging local governments to adopt a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the 1990 level by the period from 2005 to 2010.
Local governments, with added environmental responsibilities and increased awareness of global environmental issues, are utilizing global organizations and information networks to build connections throughout the world. Entering the 21st Century marks the beginning of a new historical period. The Environment Agency welcomes this enhanced partnership with local governments in combating global warming.
8 September 1997, Kobe, Japan
1. The Sixth Environment Congress for Asia and the Pacific (ECO ASIA '97) was held in Kobe, Japan from 7 to 8 September 1997. It was hosted by the Environment Agency of Japan and Kobe Municipal Government. It was attended by seven Ministers and other high level officials in charge of environment from 19 countries (Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Canada, China, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United States and Vietnam), representatives from 11 international organizations (Asian Development Bank, UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs, ESCAP, East West Center, ITTO, OECD, South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, UNCRD, UNEP/IETC, UNEP/ROAP and UNU), as well as a wide range of observers from many sectors.
2. The meeting was presided over by H.E. Mrs. Michiko Ishii, Minister of State and the Director General of the Environment Agency of Japan as the Chairperson, with H.E. Mr. Vilisoni Cangimaivei, Minister of Urban Development, Housing and Environment, Fiji and H.E. Mr. Nandimithra Ekanayake, Minister of Forestry and Environment, Sri Lanka as the Vice-Chairpersons.
3. The meeting held the following five sessions:
(Towards Realization of Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific)
5. It was followed by two keynote speeches of Mrs. Joke Waller-Hunter (DESA) and Prof. Kazuhiro Ueta (Graduate School of Kyoto University). Mrs. Waller-Hunter discussed the following three strategies: (i) to increase investment in people, (ii) to encourage clean and efficient technologies, and (iii) to implement pricing reform. She stressed that the Asia and Pacific region , unique in having a broad range of levels of development, has the opportunity to provide a model for the world, by demonstrating regional cooperation. Prof. Ueta pointed out the economic advantages of early action to prevent climate change based on the lessons learned from the Japanese experience addressing environmental pollution, and stressed that the smooth implementation of environmental measures is enhanced by a clear message from government on the orientation of environmental policies.
(Approaches to Sustainable Development in Asia and the Pacific -Towards Earth Summit + 10 based on the Outcomes of UNGASS)
6. Panelists discussed what the Asia-Pacific region should do to further implement Agenda 21 towards an Earth Summit + 10. They reported on concrete initiatives in their countries. With regards to sustainable development, the need to respond differently to the varied situations in each country in the Asia-Pacific region was emphasized. Participants focused the discussion on the climate change issue, and shared the view on the importance of the following four points : (i) the vulnerability of the Asia-Pacific region to climate change, (ii) the taking the lead by developed countries, (iii) the active participation of developing countries, and (iv) the further strengthening of regional cooperation.
(A Long-term Perspective on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific) 7. The progress reports on the ECO ASIA Long-term Perspective Project were presented by project resource persons. The meeting acknowledged their efforts and encouraged them to further develop the project with the cooperation of participating countries and organizations, and was informed of plans for the next International Workshop on the Project to be held in March 1998. 8. The representative from Indonesia introduced the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Environment and ASEAN Cooperation Programme with Dialogue Partners. The representatives from China and Korea, after introducing activities taken by their own countries, suggested specific proposals for regional environmental cooperation and how they should be expanded in the region. The representatives from the international organizations such as ADB, ESCAP, ITTO and UNEP introduced their activities on regional environmental cooperation.
(Partnership in the Asia-Pacific Region for Addressing Climate Change - for the Success of COP3)
9. The Vice-chairman of the Ad Hoc Group on Berlin Mandate introduced the progress and prospects of the Berlin Mandate process. The meeting intensively discussed the climate change issue in the Asia-Pacific region. Recognizing that the region is particularly vulnerable to impacts of climate change and that future emissions are projected to significantly and rapidly increase in the region, it was agreed that climate protection should receive a high priority, particularly in this region. It also discussed various measures to promote regional cooperation and partnership in the Asia-Pacific region. 10. Considering the importance of COP3 for future climate protection, the chairperson of the meeting prepared the "Special Appeal of Chairperson of ECO ASIA '97 for the Success of COP3" to reflect views expressed during discussions at ECO ASIA, on the personal responsibility of the Chairperson. Some participants informed the meeting that they were not authorized to make formal statements on the position of their countries. The Special Appeal is attached to this summary.
(Asia-Pacific Regional Partnership Towards the Realization of Sustainable Development)
11. Progress made since the last meeting on the Acid Deposition Monitoring Network in East Asia, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (IGES), Environmental Information Network for Asia and the Pacific (ECO ASIA NET) and Junior Eco-Club was reported by a representative from Japan and project leaders. The meeting acknowledged the efforts made by Japan.
12. Regarding the IGES project, participants welcomed an initiative of Japan in establishing the IGES which can serve as a think-tank of ECO ASIA, and agreed that it should be established and operated as an internationally characterized institute under the cooperation of the participating countries. Participants also shared the view that the IGES could play a significant role in formulating strategies required to deal with global warming in Asia and the Pacific region in response to COP3 in Kyoto.
13. The meeting participants expressed their appreciation to the Environment Agency of Japan, Kobe Municipal Government and other parties involved in organizing the meeting. Special thanks was expressed to Kobe Municipal Government for hosting the meeting and to the people of the City for their warm hospitality.
ECO ASIA '97 was convened on 7-8 September 1997 in Kobe, Japan. It was attended by 19 countries of the Asia-Pacific region and the representatives of 11 international organizations. Considering that the third session of the Conference of the Parties (COP3) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), one of the most important environmental gatherings in 1997, will be held in December in Kyoto, Japan, the participants of ECO ASIA '97 intensively discussed climate change issues and their implications to the region.Based on a broad consensus by the participants to work for the success of COP3, the Chairperson of the meeting prepared a special appeal as follows.
Acknowledging that the global nature of climate change calls for the widest possible cooperation by all countries, in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and their social and economic conditions,
Taking note that the Asia-Pacific region has particular relevance for climate change issues, because the countries of the region are especially vulnerable to the climate change impacts, and also because greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from this region are projected to grow in a significant and rapid manner due to the continued population increase and rapid economic growth in the coming decades, in line with the sustainable development needs,
Also noting that considerable progress has been made in the region to address the climate change problem, particularly through the preparation process of GHG inventories, national communications, vulnerability assessment studies, and setting up of national institutional mechanisms,
Expressing appreciation for relevant bilateral and multilateral support, in particular, the annual convening of the Asia-Pacific Seminar on Climate Change to facilitate exchange of information and experiences among the countries of the region, as well as the efforts by international organizations such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP),
It was broadly supported that
1.The countries of the Asia-Pacific region should place particular priority on the following activities to address climate change issues:
(a) Preparation and periodical updating of GHG inventories, which may not only be carried out individually but also jointly at the sub-regional level, where appropriate;
(b) Preparation of initial national communications from non-Annex I Parties, especially for the exchange of experiences among the countries of the region;
(c) Promotion of research and studies relating to climate change, with special attention to climate change impacts at regional, sub-regional and national levels, particularly through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN); and
(d) Formulation and implementation of national programmes which may contain GHG inventories, vulnerability assessments and other research and studies, appropriate mitigation measures and adaptation options, measures to enhance sinks and awareness raising programmes;
2. The following activities should be seriously considered to promote regional cooperation in Asia and the Pacific:
(a) Continuation of the Asia-Pacific Seminar on Climate Change as a regional forum to exchange experience among the countries of the region, and consideration of a possibility for its gradual expansion, especially for the private sector;
(b) Establishment of a regional network to facilitate information exchange and policy dialogue, and dissemination of climate friendly technologies, and to provide international clearing house functions for activities implemented jointly under the pilot phase particularly through the private sector;
(c) Strengthening of support for various activities to promote public awareness and endogenous capacity building in management mitigation and adaptation of climate change impacts; and
(d) Consideration of regional model projects to demonstrate the benefits of such projects for sustainable economic growth and environmental protection.
3. For the success of COP3 and as a first step towards meeting the ultimate objective of UNFCCC, the Parties of UNFCCC should seriously consider the following issues in negotiating a protocol or another legal instrument:
(a) Developed country Parties should intensify efforts to fulfill their commitments to meet their targets for 2000, and to take the lead in significantly reducing GHG emissions by setting quantified emission targets within the specified time frames;
(b) Developing country Parties should also make efforts to advance implementation of their commitments under UNFCCC, in particular, towards making noticeable progress, for mitigation and adaptation of climate change impacts; and
(c) Developed country Parties should strengthen cooperation with and support for developing country Parties to deal with climate change problems, particularly for effective transfer of climate friendly technologies and by provision of financial resources, through bilateral and multilateral channels.
In order to "clarify the views of the business and industrial community regarding COP3 and measures to cope with global warming," the Keidanren issued a global warming policy statement in September of this year. What follows is a brief summary of the Keidanren policy statement.
"Concerning specifically the status of CO2 emissions in Japan, although emissions from households and transportation-related services have nearly doubled in the past two decades, those from the industrial sector have remained essentially unchanged despite the economy almost doubling in size."
For more information on the Keidanren, including the full text of its Opinion Relating to COP3 and to Measures on Global Warming, and the Keidanren Voluntary Action Plan on the Environment, please go to:
"Kiko" is the Japanese word for "climate" and as the name indicates the Kiko Forum functions as an umbrella organization for the myriad Japanese NGOs trying to stop global warming. Made up of both domestic and international NGOs, at the time of its establishment the Kiko Forum had less than 40 members. That membership has now swelled to approximately 200.
Drawing on the expertise of its member NGOs, an experts group was formed in February of this year. In May, the group announced the "10 Steps to a Better World" (see box). These Steps form the Kiko Forum's positions on key Kyoto Conference issues.
The Kiko Forum's goal is to influence the COP3 proceedings. With the conclusion of the COP3 in December, the goal will have been reached and the Kiko Forum as a formal organization will cease to exist. The Kiko Forum will be disbanded after the COP3, but it is our hope that the network this event has allowed us to create will continue work together to have a lasting influence on domestic and global environmental action. By Koichi Watanabe, Vice-Director, Kiko Forum
To review the Kiko Forum's internet webpage in English, go to
Environment Agency Government of Japan