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G8 SUMMIT: 'Make or Break time on Climate Change

7 Jul 2008


Inter Press Service

TOKYO (IPS) - Japan is preparing to test its leadership role at the
summit meeting of seven western industrial democracies and Russia (G8)
Jul. 7-9 in Toyako on the northern island of Hokkaido.

Japan considers the summit meeting "historic", a senior foreign ministry
official said.

For the first time in the course of G8 meetings and their predecessors
since 1975, the G8 countries (Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia,
Japan, Canada and the United States) will hold discussions with as many
as 14 heads of state and government from Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin
America in three 'outreach' groups.

The official said he hoped the meeting would prove historic in sending a
"strong message" to the international community in addressing major
issues of concern to the world: development, global food, energy,
financial stability, nuclear non-proliferation and climate change.

The first round of discussions spread over four hours on the first day
of the summit will include seven African leaders -- three more than at
last year's G8 -- from Algeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South
Africa and Tanzania -- as well as the chairperson of the African Union
(AU) Commission.

The meeting, to be attended also by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and
World Bank president Robert Zoellick will focus on African development
by achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 and
addressing global food security.

Another workshop -- on the last day of the summit -- with the leaders of
Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, South Korea and
South Africa, described as major economies -- will be devoted to
environment and climate change.

These meetings follow those last year at the Heiligendamm summit in
Germany with the Outreach Five (O5) comprising the leaders of Brazil,
China, India, Mexico and South Africa.

A background paper by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)
says that Prime Minister Yasuo Fakuda wants the G8 to send "a strong
message to the world for development of a post-2012 framework on climate
change (after the commitment period of Kyoto Protocol) to be advanced
through the UN process.

"Japan will demonstrate leadership in discussions on climate change,
aiming to attain understanding and agreement of each country for Japan's
proposals," the background paper says.

In line with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's statement Jun. 1 at the
Japan-Germany summit, Japan wishes to advance further the Heiligendamm
agreement of last year. The G8 agreed last year to "seriously consider
cutting global greenhouse gas emissions by at least half by 2050 from
the current levels."

The paper quotes Prime Minister Fakuda as saying: "It is essential to
have a 'total participation' framework that includes all the major
economies, not just the EU and Japan." He adds: "Japan will negotiate
tenaciously in order to build international agreement on fair and
equitable rules which are approved by all."

The MOFA paper says that the Kyoto Protocol, agreed in December 1997, is
an "epoch-making first step in reducing emissions." But "the total
amount of emissions from ratifiers that are obligated to reduce is still
about 30 percent of the world."

In view of this, Prime Minister Fakuda is proposing:

- Japan, along with other major emitters, will establish quantified
national targets for emissions reduction.

- The target could be based on a bottom-up approach by compiling energy
efficiency on a sectoral basis and tallying up the reduction volume.

- The base year should be reviewed.

Concretely, in the post-Kyoto framework, Japan wants to move away from
1990 as the base for carbon dioxide (CO2) reductions, agreed in Kyoto.

This is expected to make Japan's leadership at the summit an extremely
challenging task. This is admitted by Japanese officials involved in the
G8 Hokkaido summit preparations. "We know it is a make or break issue,"
an official told IPS.

Japan's long-term goal is to achieve a 60-80 percent reduction in
emissions from the current level by 2050. The medium-term goal is a 14
percent reduction by 2020 compared to 2005 levels by 2020.

Japan is, in any case, determined to contribute up to 1.2 billion
dollars to a new multilateral fund which it is establishing with Britain
and the U.S. The fund will assist developing countries in addressing
climate change.

Japan is expected to propose an International Partnership for
Environment and Energy "to share a global roadmap for innovative
technological development looking 30-40 years ahead by having the
international community work in unison, to advance technological

The achievement of this partnership is also to be shared with developing
countries, says the MOFA background document.

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