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Japan refuses to extend Kyoto,endangers talks

Japan's refusal to extend the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012 has led to a major uproar at the climate change conference here,with developing countries criticising Tokyo’s move that has the potential to sabotage the two-week meeting.

Written by Amitabh Sinha |
December 3, 2010 4:39:03 am

Japan’s refusal to extend the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012 has led to a major uproar at the climate change conference here,with developing countries criticising Tokyo’s move that has the potential to sabotage the two-week meeting.

On Monday and Tuesday,Japan said it would not support the extension of Kyoto Protocol (see box) beyond 2012 and favoured a different legal architecture that would have participation from all major greenhouse gas emitters,including India,China and the US,which currently are not under any legal obligation to reduce their emissions.

Deciding on fresh targets for these countries for an as-yet unspecified second commitment period beyond 2012 is one of the main agendas at the talks.

“We are not supporting the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol because it is not an effective vehicle for addressing the problem of climate change. It covers countries that only have a 27 per cent share of current global emissions and this share is only going to decline in the coming years,” Jun Arima,a Japanese negotiator,said. “In order to address climate change in a truly effective way,we must have other major emitters on board.”

A number of countries,including India,China and Brazil,denounced the Japanese decision.

“The extension of Kyoto Protocol for second commitment period is a paramount principle of these talks. I don’t think how any progress can be made at these talks if it is not extended,” Vijai Sharma,India’s Environment Secretary and the lead negotiator at the talks,said.

Chinese negotiator Su Wei echoed the same sentiment,saying the Kyoto Protocol was the foundation on which international cooperation to deal with climate change was based. “If the pillar itself is made to collapse,you can guess the consequences,” Su Wei said.

An Indian negotiator said there was nothing new in the Japanese position. But still,negotiators felt it was a bit odd to see Japan making such a categorical statement at the start of such a crucial conference.

Many countries were learnt to be making inquiries with the Japanese camp,whether its announcement was more in the nature of a negotiating tactic or a full-fledged decision taken by the government.

Yuri Onodera of the Japanese chapter of Friends of the Earth,claimed Tokyo’s announcement was the result of a decision taken at the highest level by the Japanese Prime Minister himself. “This is shocking. It is an extremely hardline position taken by our government,” he said.

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