Japan Wants Change to 1990 Emission Baseline

Says change is necessary from standpoint of equity

Japan will push for a year after 1990 to be used as the reference point for greenhouse emission cuts in a post-Kyoto deal as chair of the G8 summit in July, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said on Jan. 26. The Kyoto Protocol requires major developed nations to slash emissions causing global warming by an average of 5% from 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. "The base year should ... be reviewed from the standpoint of equity. Without equity, it will be impossible to maintain efforts and solidarity over the long term," Fukuda said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Japan's Kyodo News had reported that Japan wanted to change the base year for emissions cuts to 2000. Moving the goalposts might help bring India and China -- whose emissions shot up between 1990 and 2000 -- on board in a new deal, although such a change is likely to come up against stiff opposition from the European Union.

Representatives from 180 countries agreed a roadmap in Bali in December to agree a new pact that will slash greenhouse gas pollution after 2012, when current commitments under the Kyoto Protocol run out.

Fukuda said that climate change would be a "top priority" for Japan at the Group of Eight (G8) meeting and that he would press for a new global agreement with "fair and equitable" emissions targets involving "all major emitters." He also said Japan would announce its own quantified national target for greenhouse gas cuts. "As chair of the G8 summit, I am resolved to take on the responsibility in working towards the establishment of a framework in which all major emitters participate, as well as the setting of fair and equitable emissions targets.In order to ensure a peaking-out of global greenhouse gas emissions, it is absolutely essential to create a mechanism in which everyone participates, including all major emitters," Fukuda said.

Fukuda called for a new global target of a 30% improvement in energy efficiency by 2020 and announced a $10 billion fund to help developing countries reduce emissions and cope with the impact of climate change. Japan will also invest $50 billion over the next five years in researching and developing new technologies to help in the fight against climate change and to shift Japan to a "low carbon society."

"Global environmental issues have now gone beyond the discussion stage to become real problems with significant effects on our day-to-day lives and economic activities. This constitutes a major new challenge to humanity, as we could be courting catastrophe in both the natural environment and our socio-economic activities if we stand by and do nothing," he said. "We will seek to expand this low-carbon society both at home and abroad and play a leading role in transforming the globe into a low-carbon planet."

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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