November 5, 2004
The Entry into Force of the Kyoto Protocol is around the corner.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the Draft Federal Law on the Ratification of the Kyoto Protocol on November 4, 2004. The Russian decision on ratification, having fulfilled the conditions for the entry into force of the Protocol, shall result in the Protocol coming into force in February 2005.
Japan, as the country which hosted the Third Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP3), has at every opportunity made substantial efforts towards urging Russia and the United States, the two key states for the entry into force of the Protocol, to ratify it. Japan cordially welcomes Russia's decision to ratify the Protocol and is very pleased that the Protocol shall enter into force. Japan recognizes the need to promote policies and measures to tackle climate change and is determined to carry them out.
Climate change as a problem already manifesting itself
Climate change is a problem which is already manifesting itself, with extreme climatic events, including floods, droughts, heat waves and violent hurricanes occurring all over the world. Japan too experienced a record-breaking heat wave in the summer of 2004, with central Tokyo reaching a record high temperature of 39.5ﾟC. In addition, the city counted 70 days on which the daily high temperature exceeded 30ﾟC. To add to this, the number of typhoons striking Japan was at a record high and their intensity and scale were extremely large, causing serious damage including a large number of casualties.
Since climate change is recognized as a long-term phenomenon, it is impossible to state unequivocally whether those extreme climatic events are attributable to climate change. However, if climate change proceeds, it is projected that the frequency and scale of these events are likely to become increasingly serious.
Providing international leadership
Insofar as climate change would bring about serious implications such as these, international society has been taking steady steps to address it. In addition to the continued implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, which constitutes the basis for climate change measures, international society will take another step forward through the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol.
Japan will continuously urge the United States, Australia, and other countries which have not ratified the Protocol to ratify it. Also, through cooperation with other nations with regard to Joint Implementation and the Clean Development Mechanism stipulated under the Protocol, Japan will make a contribution to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in those nations.
At the same time, in consideration of the global increase in the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases, it is necessary to take second and third steps to follow up on this first step of commitments through 2012 stipulated under the Protocol. Addressing climate change requires us to reduce anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases in the medium to long term by more than half. In order to achieve this goal, Japan is committed to promoting further dialogue with developing nations, in which substantial increases in greenhouse gas emissions are expected, as well as with developed nations. Japan is also committed to promoting international negotiations proactively with regard to the climate regime for 2013 and beyond.
Promotion of domestic policies and measures towards the achievement of our Kyoto commitment
The Government of Japan ratified the Kyoto Protocol in June 2002. In order to achieve its 6% reduction commitment under the Kyoto Protocol, it has also formulated the Climate Change Policy Program. Based on this Program, a number of policies and measures have been formulated and implemented. This year is a year for review and assessment of the Program and the Government is undertaking these tasks taking into consideration recommendations by the Central Environment Council and other relevant advisory councils.
Recent data shows that Japan's greenhouse gas emissions significantly exceed those of the base year and that additional policies and measures are needed. Additional policies and measures, including a mandatory greenhouse gas accounting and reporting system, a voluntary emissions trading scheme and a climate change tax, have been proposed. In assuring the attainment of our commitments, I am committed to promoting dialogues with stakeholders further with regard to the introduction of these policies and measures and to making every effort to finalize the new Government agenda.
Towards the establishment of a society addressing climate change
To accomplish our Kyoto commitments, Japan's national government, local governments, industries, NGOs and citizens each need to take actions for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, taking ownership of the attainment of the Kyoto commitment as one of their own goals.
Also, from a mid- to long-term perspective, we need to shift Japanese society to one which emits less greenhouse gas-that is, to a society which addresses climate change. In doing so, I believe that Japan can lead the world by utilizing its depth of experience and its excellent technologies with regard to conserving energy and curbing pollution. For example, hybrid vehicles which were originally developed in Japan have already become popular around the world, contributing to the reduction of CO2 emissions on a global scale.
Here at the beginning of the 21st century, we are on the verge of taking on a new challenge. I would like to ask all Japanese and international society to make concerted efforts to actively participate in activities to combat climate change. Japan is committed to leading with regard to this new challenge.