COP21開幕 新興国も責任果たす枠組みに

The Yomiuri Shimbun
New framework for emissions cuts must involve emerging economies
COP21開幕 新興国も責任果たす枠組みに

Can a new framework to replace the Kyoto Protocol be put in place on emissions control? The international climate conference is important as it influences the future course of measures to fight global warming.

The 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) opened amid tight security in Paris, not long after deadly terrorist attacks in and around the city.

In an extraordinary move, a summit meeting was held at the outset of the conference. It is significant that leaders from about 150 countries committed to tackling a subject of common interest to all of humankind without yielding to terrorism.

But it remains to be seen how the conference will turn out. There is a wide gap between the positions of developed and developing countries.

Measures to combat global warming have been based on the idea that developed nations have a greater responsibility than developing ones as they have emitted a great amount of greenhouse gases in the course of their economic development. Under the Kyoto Protocol adopted in 1997, only developed nations were obliged to cut back on emissions.

The situation has changed greatly from what it was at the time. Emissions by emerging economies including China and India with no reduction obligations have increased significantly. China is now the world’s largest producer of gas emissions, surpassing the United States.

The greatest focus of the conference will be on whether a new framework, which will take effect in 2020, can be made into a system in which all major greenhouse gas emitters fulfill their shares of responsibility.

Reduction targets not enough

Countries have announced their own reduction targets ahead of the COP21. China’s target is to cut its emissions by 60 percent to 65 percent from 2005 levels by 2030 — as measured per unit of gross domestic product.

This can be translated into an increase of emissions if the economy grows greatly. We have to say that it is not an adequately set goal.

On the other hand, if a demanding goal is pushed on it, China may leave the new framework. This is a dilemma.

The U.S. target is to curtail emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent from 2005 levels in 2025. Japan has set a goal of a 26 percent cut in fiscal 2030 compared with fiscal 2013 levels. Developed nations’ proactive approaches to emissions cuts are considered effective in prompting China and other emerging economies to also tackle the global issue positively.

Even if emissions targets by all the parties to the convention are added up, it will not be possible to achieve an international goal of reining in the rise in the average temperature at the end of this century by less than 2 C compared with the period before the Industrial Revolution.

A matter to be studied is establishment of a system under which countries are obliged to report the status of emissions cuts periodically for verification and work toward raising reduction targets as much as possible.

Emerging and developing countries strongly call on developed nations to expand financial assistance and to transfer technology.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will announce a plan to raise Japan’s annual assistance from ¥1 trillion to ¥1.3 trillion and provide renewable energy technologies, among others. Japan must contribute to reducing emissions as a whole in the world.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Dec. 1, 2015)

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