In Focus

Statement by Masaharu Nakagawa, Minister of the Environment of Japan, at COP 23

Statement by Masaharu Nakagawa

I would like to express my gratitude to Fiji for COP23 Presidency, as well as to Germany for hosting the conference. I think it is very significant for Fiji to assume presidency, representing island countries, which are vulnerable to the impact of climate change. I believe that the spirit of "Talanoa[1]," proposed by Fiji, is very important in integrating different opinions. In order to have the implementation guidelines of the Paris Agreement adopted at COP24 next year, Japan is going to contribute to the advancement of negotiations during COP23 and fully support the effort of Fiji presidency for establishing a basic design of the facilitative dialogue to be held next year.

We are witnessing climate change accelerating in recent years. We must march forward together toward achieving the purpose of the Paris Agreement in order to cope with the threat of climate change. Japan, aiming at achieving significant emissions reduction, is going to take on the challenge of developing cutting-edge innovations ahead of the world and contribute to the best of our ability to reducing the global greenhouse gas emissions. Through all these efforts, Japan will accomplish further economic growth and share our achievement with the rest of the world.

Despite experiencing the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, Japan has continued to pursue ambitiously our 2020 target. On the occasion of COP21 in 2015, Prime Minister Abe announced an increase of financial assistance to developing countries from 1 trillion yen to about 1.3 trillion yen. We will steadily work to implement the pledged assistance.

Japan has contributed 1.5 billion dollars to the Green Climate Fund as well as 2.5 million dollars every year to "the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutant." Utilizing the Joint Crediting Mechanism, which Japan has concluded with 17 countries, resulting in more than 100 projects so far, we are going to promote emissions reduction by disseminating our advanced low-carbon technologies, and implementation of countermeasures under the partnership with developing countries. Japan cooperated with Fiji, in holding the COP23 preparatory workshops in Asia-Pacific region this year and is assisting Fiji in reconstructing schools through the grass-roots grant aid scheme.

From the viewpoint of protecting healthy oceans, Japan is offering technical assistance to improve the capability to cope with climate change in island countries. Starting in 2015, in the Pacific island countries, including Fiji, Japan is extending its support for adaptation for coastal protection by utilizing ecosystem such as coral reefs and mangroves.

In planning climate change countermeasures, scientific knowledge is very important. Scientists are indispensable players for the Paris Agreement. The role that IPCC has played through its work over the years is significant. IPCC, in its 49th general assembly in May 2019, is set to approve a report on methodology to estimate greenhouse gas emissions, which forms an indispensable step towards the implementation of the Paris Agreement. Japan would like to express our willingness to host this IPCC general assembly in our country.

Science plays a very important role in assessing vulnerabilities to climate change. Through our collaboration among experts, research organizations, and the government with scientists at the center, Japan has integrated their knowledge and completed a report on the analysis of natural disasters caused by climate change and its impact on vulnerabilities in Asia-Pacific region. This outcome is used in various diplomatic fora including COP.

Based upon the cabinet decision on the Plan for Global Warming Countermeasures in May last year, Japan is steadily implementing measures to achieve 26% reduction by 2030 under the Paris Agreement. At the same time, Japan intends to lead the international community so that major emitters will reduce their emissions in accordance with their capabilities under the fair and effective international framework participated by all the major countries based on the Paris Agreement. While reconciling global greenhouse countermeasures and economic growth, our country is going to aim at achieving the long-term goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. In the last 5 years, with the number of eco-cars doubled and solar power generation increasing more than 5 times, greenhouse gas emissions have been decreasing in Japan for two years in a row.

Japan is going to promote innovations of science and technology. We will promote research and development and projects on manufacturing and transporting of energy carriers such as hydrogen, the future power electronics using gallium nitride, CCS and CCU.

In collaboration with island countries, Japan is going to develop a new hazard map by utilizing satellite data to forecast flood areas affected by high waves caused by hurricanes. Japan is going to support countries suffering from malaria through disseminating the use of mosquito nets, which will prevent for a long time mosquitos from infiltrating.

Two years have passed since the Paris Agreement. Many businesses, local governments and citizens in the world have substantially changed their mindset and the course of actions. Among those actors, there is a prevailing recognition that climate change measures are going to help us achieve "the sustainable development goals." Japan will support ambitious programs carried out by local governments, businesses and others and their efforts to disseminate such programs.

Improving transparency of information on climate change measures taken by each country provides driving force for implementing the Paris Agreement. Improvement of transparency will make it possible to visualize the status of programs implemented by all participants including governments, local governments, businesses and others and the potential of their technologies and know-how and their needs. This will promote participation, investment and further cooperation by the private sector, which is expected to create co-innovation.

To that end, Japan is going to establish "the Partnership to increase transparency for co-innovation (Visualization Partnership)," in which our country, developing countries and international organizations will participate.

As part of that initiative, Japan is going to contribute 5 million dollars to "the Capacity-building Initiative for Transparency". In 2018, Japan plans to launch "GOSAT-2," a satellite to observe the amount of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Japan will also establish "the Asia-Pacific Climate Change Adaptation Platform," which provides the basis for information on climate change risks and adaptation measures.

The Paris Agreement entered into force in such a short time as 1 year after the agreement was reached in COP21. Participating in this COP23 and personally observing many countries and stakeholders in the world energetically working together toward steady implementation of the Paris Agreement, I have been so much encouraged.

Japan promises to collaborate with the international community and commits to take a lead in challenging climate change, which is a threat to all of us and all of our future generations.

I myself will make every possible effort to ensure that climate action will lead to new growth so that we can realize a sustainable society, which will provide us with quality life into the future, while solving socio-economic problems simultaneously.

(November 15th, 2017 in Bonn)

[1] Talanoa: comprehensive, participatory, transparent dialogue process

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