Speakers: Deputy Minister Masaharu Kohno and Director-General for Global Issues Koji Tsuruoka
Titles: 2007 G8 Summit in Heiligendamm and "Cool Earth 50"
30 May, 2007
- Briefing by Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Masaharu Kohno on the 2007 G8 Summit in Heiligendamm
- Questions concerning Japan's desired outcome from the G8 Summit in terms of climate change
- Question concerning the issue of China extending loans to Africa
- Question concerning discussion of the North Korean issue at the G8 Summit
- Question concerning the effect of the current political situation in Japan on discussions at the G8 Summit
- Briefing by Director-General for Global Issues Koji Tsuruoka on "Cool Earth 50"
- Question concerning the ability of the proposed new financial mechanism to encourage the involvement of large emitters of greenhouse gases
- Question concerning Japan's ability to meet its Kyoto Protocol target
- Question concerning Japan's non-involvement in the European Union's proposal on climate change
- Question concerning the involvement of other countries in technology transfer
I. Briefing by Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Masaharu Kohno on the 2007 G8 Summit in Heiligendamm
Deputy Press Secretary Tomohiko Taniguchi: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Here is Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Masaharu Kohno. Today's Open House is going to be divided into two parts. The first part is about the G8 Summit Meeting, what Japan aspires to do there, and Mr. Kohno is going to brief you on that.
Later on Mr. Tsuruoka is going to join us, and he is going to talk about "Cool Earth 50." The 50 is actually a double-entendre, first meaning the reduction of emissions by 50 percent, by the year 2050, hence came the name, "Cool Earth 50."
But first of all we are going to have an eventful couple of weeks about the multilateral diplomacy, and Mr. Kohno, please walk us through what Japan is going to do there in the Federal Republic of Germany.
Mr. Masaharu Kohno, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs: Thank you very much. Again, I would like to introduce myself, I am Masaharu Kohno. I am deputy minister and also the Sherpa for my Prime Minister for the G8 Summit.
My role for today is to give some briefing to you about what we the Japanese Government are looking at this Heiligendamm Summit which comes in one week's time. Well of course I would like to say a few points just for the discussion's sake.
It is very difficult - I was asked to summarize the points which we are looking at in Heiligendamm in five minutes or ten minutes. It is a bit difficult. It is a long, long process up to next week's G8 Summit, but I would like to tell you about a few points which are for your own further thought on that.
First of all, needless to say, and useless to say, but the major issue of discussion will be the climate change, but having said that, with climate change there is a common understanding that we have to make an integrated approach to this issue. In other words, climate change, together with energy security, and also to maintain the stable growth of the economy, sustainable growth. So how can we combine all those different elements into the combined approach to this issue? That is actually the main issue which we have been discussing about, and which G8 leaders are about to discuss. Having said all that, there is still the wide gap among the G8 countries on how to approach this issue. Some details I can answer to you later after the questions, and also more deeply, Mr. Tsuruoka is going to give you some further thought on this issue. But anyway, what I am saying to you is that for this upcoming Heiligendamm Summit, climate change is the main issue of discussion among G8 leaders.
The second point I would like to say, is that another highlighted issue which I am expecting G8 leaders to discuss... Well, first of all I would like to say that the major theme of discussion is the international or world economy, and Africa. Those are the two major issues under the name of growth and responsibility. The tone was set by Chancellor Merkel and we all accepted that, so under that framework we are going to discuss various issues.
In this world economy, the climate change is the major issue of discussion. Well, some other issues like innovations and investment - you can see on the paper that was distributed to you that under the name of world economy you can find trade, investment, innovation, natural resources, corruption, etc., and on Africa, well those are the things. I have to say that there are some political and security issues of current concern by G8 countries. Those are the major issues of discussion. But among this world economy my Prime Minister would like to make a constructive contribution to the discussion, particularly in the issue of innovation.
As you may know, it was only a few weeks ago that my Prime Minister made his own initiative under the name of "Innovation 25" and aging societies and decreasing populations, under such circumstances, that kind of situation is commonly faced by other countries including Germany and others. So this upcoming aging society, as an issue for the future innovation is one of the key issues which we have to address. So innovation will be another major issue of discussion and my Prime Minister will be ready to discuss on this. Of course, by saying innovation, it has a certain close relationship with the technology aspect of climate change also. Innovation is also the key on this issue too.
Thirdly I would like to say that, as I said, Africa is also an issue too.
As you may have noticed we are going to host TICAD IV in May next year. This is a once in five years big event for Japanese policy toward Africa. So the discussion of this Heiligendamm Summit on Africa we would like to make a bridge and linkage between our discussions in one week's time with our TICAD meeting next year. That is the third subject of discussion.
This year, particularly, a numerical target has been discussed two years ago in Gleneagles, and now it is about time for the mid-term review of those commitments made by G8 countries, so that will also be discussed among the leaders. But at the same time, this time, instead of focusing on these numerical things, what we would like to focus on in the discussion is the governance, and promotion of trade and investment, and those other things.
Since the beginning of this century, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) process has been in progress, and ownership is in the process of being heightened. Under such circumstances how can we further strengthen the partnership between G8 countries and Africa? That will also be an issue to be discussed. Of course, together with those governance and investment issues, some very serious issues relating to health, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, or malaria, those are also issues of discussion of this upcoming summit.
The fourth point which I would like to say, this is the cross-cutting issues, is how to get along with, and how to deal with, the emerging economies. That is another issue.
Talking about global economy, world imbalances, or the investment or protection of intellectual property rights, those have an underlying theme which is how we can cooperate and collaborate with emerging countries. From that viewpoint, this time, Germany has invited the leaders of five emerging economies: the People's Republic of China, the Republic of India, the Republic of South Africa, the United Mexican States, and the Federative Republic of Brazil. On the last day we would like to spend some time with those five emerging economies to discuss how we can follow up on the discussion of this G8 Summit and how we can collaborate.
It is not confidential at all any more that the word which Germany is coining is the "Heiligendamm Process", which means that we would like to continue this discussion between G8 countries and those five outreach countries as a kind of follow up for the next two years.
The fifth point, all in all if you see those subjects they are all global issues actually, and global issues means that those are issues that we cannot solve in a day or a month, these are years-long processes. So the discussion which we are going to have, like climate change, Africa, or investment, those will certainly be the issues for next year also.
As you know, Japan will host the G8 Summit next year, so my leader, my Prime Minister, is looking at the subject of discussion this year from the viewpoint of making certain linkage with the summit in Japan which he is going to preside over. So there is certain linkage between Heiligendamm and Toyako.
Those are about the points which I would like to say, but lastly I would like to say that for my Prime Minister this is his first appearance at this summit and for the President of the French Republic it is also, and there are two persons for who it will be the last appearance at the G8 Summit this time: Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and I guess, if the political process goes as it is, President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation, for him this would be his last appearance. So, those are an important feature. For those persons who will be appearing last, they have their own specific agenda to discuss. For example, Tony Blair would like to discuss his life's work issue, Africa, so we would like to listen very carefully to what Tony Blair is going to say about Africa, that is very important, and will certainly impact upon the discussion next week.
Well, those are about what I would like to say, but having said all that, my Prime Minister is ready to go, and he would like to make a humble constructive contribution for the success of the G8 Summit in collaboration with Chancellor Merkel.
Well, that is a rough sketch from my viewpoint on the upcoming Heiligendamm Summit next week.
Mr. Taniguchi: Mr. Kohno, thank you very much. If you can field the questions yourself please.
II. Questions concerning Japan's desired outcome from the G8 Summit in terms of climate change
Q: Could I ask, in the best possible case, in the best possible scenario, what is the result Japan would like to see from the G8 in terms of climate change?
Mr. Kohno: Well, first and foremost, it is very difficult to prejudge the result of the discussion, but as your question is what would be the best scenario, well, at least the bottom line or the most important thing, is that, in very general terms, make progress. I would like to say that this climate change issue will be a years-long process from now on, and the most important thing is not to make a gap between the Kyoto process and post-Kyoto. So, at the end of the day, we have to come up with a very good post-Kyoto framework with the participation of major carbon emission countries including China, India, and some other countries.
I hope that through the course of discussion in Heiligendamm we can lay a good and solid foundation for the future progress toward the goal of making such a framework with the participation of major carbon emitters.
Q: To follow up on the first question on climate change, I know that this is a really complicated issue, but what do you foresee as being the biggest challenge in creating a post-Kyoto framework which would continue on to the Japan Summit next year? What kind of key results are expected in order for that post-Kyoto framework to work?
Mr. : You are talking about a rather long-term perspective.
Mr. Kohno: Well, as I said to you, already I think I have answered to your question. Those are all that I can say to you, as I said, that the long-term goal is making an integrated approach on this issue, together with energy security and also the sustainable growth. Then, at the end of the day what we are seeking for is a good comprehensive framework with the participation of major carbon emitting countries. That is actually the goal.
The post-Kyoto framework itself should be more refined and more enlarged in manner compared to what we now have in the Kyoto Protocol. Certainly we are not in a position to take the similar steps that we have taken before, and post-Kyoto we would like to have a more refined, more improved framework itself with the participation of the major countries. That is actually the goal. But in order to do so, as my Prime Minister has proposed, it is not an easy task.
What I mean to say to you is that just simply taking the lead by a G8 country is not sufficient. Having the participation of those major emitters is very important. Also, in the rest of the world there are a large number of small emitter countries. The UN convention framework should be completed with the participation of the landslide majority of the world. In order to do so we have to pay attention to the mitigation process as well as the adaptation process also. We have to pay attention and come up with some common understanding on carbon market mechanism and also revolutionary technologies. There are many different kinds of elements in it.
In other words, the climate change issue is a scientific issue, an economic issue, and also a very political and diplomatic issue, so that makes this issue so colorful, interesting, and also difficult.
Having said all that, again I would like to say to you that I sincerely hope that this Heiligendamm Summit will make a very important first step of progress of this discussion for the successful conclusion of this issue at the end of the day.
After my presentation, the person in charge as specialist will elaborate on this issue.
III. Question concerning the issue of China extending loans to Africa
Q: This is concerning Africa. The G8 countries are a bit worried that China is providing loans to African countries. Is it going to be one of the issues to be mentioned there, this Chinese loan to Africa which is a matter of concern to everybody?
Mr. Kohno: Well, needless to say, this is one of the concerns of the G8 countries, therefore certainly whatever we are going to discuss on Africa or on the emerging economies, there are certain issues, as you have said; each leader has his own mind. But what is most important is how we can work together and cooperate with emerging economies.
I do not want to specify China or India, so that is the reason why I said as a second priority, or the third or fourth priority, that the important thing is to further communication with emerging economies. Maybe some of the key elements, keywords, are level playing field, and transparency, or kind of a common code of conduct, under which we would behave together. So those are the things.
Of course, on Africa, under the subject of Africa we will discuss about the future of Africa, and within the framework of the discussion on how to deal with emerging economies, certainly your point will be contemplated among the leaders.
IV. Question concerning discussion of the North Korean issue at the G8 Summit
Q: What are the Japanese expecting about the North Korean issue? Will you push for strong wording?
Mr. Kohno: Political issues, including North Korea, will certainly be discussed over lunch on the second day. Your Government has your own interests on Kosovo and some others, and we have North Korea as an issue. So certainly my Prime Minister will take the lead on the discussion on North Korea.
I do not want to prejudge what my Prime Minister is going to say on this issue, but at least I can anticipate that my Prime Minister will make a very strong message on this North Korean issue, as since one year ago in the Russian Summit a nuclear test was conducted by North Korea. Then the Six-Party Talks had been resumed, however the initial measures supposed to be taken by North Korea have not been taken yet, and a new resolution was made there.
Under such circumstances, it is North Korea which should take action at this stage. Therefore, under such circumstances, if the situation will be as it is today, certainly my Prime Minister will send a very strong presentation on this issue.
The result of the discussion, well, we are also working on the piles of documents, as you know, always, annually, for the G8 Summit we produce huge documents, but the North Korean issue may appear in a document on non-proliferation, as well as hopefully the chairman's summary.
V. Question concerning the effect of the current political situation in Japan on discussions at the G8 Summit
Q: There has been recently some political confusion in Japan led by the death of the agriculture minister. Does it affect any Japanese policies or whatever discussions?
Mr. Kohno: Well, my quick answer is no. I was shocked yesterday when I heard that news, as the late agriculture minister was one of the very important key players for the promotion of the Doha round. Therefore it was very sad news, and many messages of condolences are being sent by his counterparts in the world.
The Doha round and trade related issues will also be an issue of discussion among G8 countries, and the most important message which we have to address at this juncture is to have the successful conclusion of this Doha round as soon as possible based upon the joint communications by G8 Ministerial Meetings a couple of months ago.
Having said all that, because you inspired me to say a bit about the trade issues, but your first original question, "what does it affect?" I have no idea at all. I don't think that will make any negative effect on the discussion at the G8. But I am not in a position with authority to answer to your question.
Mr. Taniguchi: My thanks to you, Mr. .
Mr. Taniguchi: Ladies and gentlemen, here joining us now is Mr. Koji Tsuruoka. He is director-general for global issues, and he is going to give a ten minute presentation about the "Cool Earth 50" initiative. So please, Mr. Tsuruoka.
Mr. Koji Tsuruoka, Director-General for Global Issues: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I wasn't really prepared to do ten minutes presentation, but since it is an instruction from Mr. Taniguchi I will have to do that. The reason I am saying this is because it is all in the news already, and I hope you have at least read the reporting on the speech delivered by the Prime Minister on 24 May; the title was "Invitation to Cool Earth 50." I believe the text of the speech has been distributed to you. Let me just go through the speech very quickly.
There are three pillars to this speech.
The first pillar, as you can see in the summary, is the long-term strategy in addressing the issue of climate change.
The second is the three principles for the post-2012, post-Kyoto framework.
Third is the national campaign.
I will very briefly describe each of the pillars, and then perhaps it will be more useful if we have Q&A.
The first pillar is the long-term goal. No strategy can be formulated unless you have a long-term objective. The world of course is experiencing global warming and this is an issue of urgency. We all believe that we need to tackle this issue, but there are a number of uncertainties around this theme.
There are scientific findings that have been brought to our attention almost on a daily basis: we have seen reports issued by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) which is the group of scholars from around the world that have been studying this scientifically, but still a lot of uncertainties remain, one of which is what will happen in the year 2050.
The year 2050 has been picked up because this is what many countries use as the current appropriate target year for the long-term discussion. There is one agreement that countries have already committed themselves to in the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, which is stabilization of the greenhouse gas concentration. There is no further definition of what this means. The stabilization of concentration, if you translate that into action means the emission will be balanced by the natural capacity to absorb. It is sort of the primary balance that you use in budgetary discussion or fiscal terms. In other words, if you achieve that, the gas concentration will no longer be increased. Of course, there is an open question of "what is the level of concentration that we are talking about at that time?" and that, frankly, or not that I can say frankly because I have no expertise, but scientists do not agree on what the level is that should be achieved or could be achieved. But we all know that if this issue is left unattended it will be very, very detrimental to the whole world, not just economically but indeed for the fate of the humankind as a whole.
Now, with those understandings the Prime Minister is calling to set a common vision among all the countries of the world that we should strive to achieve 50 percent reduction of the gas emissions compared to the current level in the year 2050. Now, we are saying "current level" without identifying any particular year. The intention is twofold. One, based on the lack of scientific evidence that allows us to be very specific in identifying a particular year - the technical term is the base year - as the year that will be the basis for comparison from where you reduce by half. A second is a pragmatic decision or thinking. If we are talking about 2050, we really cannot be making this commitment that will be binding on anyone, or any country for that matter. If we need to establish some legally-binding commitment, then we need to be able to specifically state what it is. As I said earlier, this is not available to us today with the current technology, so we have deliberately kept this rather vague, so that what we intend to do is at least, first of all, let us share this vision, and once we share this vision, let us talk about the mid-term, which will be the post-Kyoto Protocol starting from 2013, in which framework we will be discussing concrete and detailed elements as to how we can progress toward achieving this visionary goal.
Now, moving on to the second pillar which is where the Prime Minister stated his views in terms of the principles of addressing this framework, the framework has been discussed, it has yet to be negotiated because we really haven't started negotiating setting up of the framework. The framework I mean is setting up of the post-Kyoto starting from 2013. There have been a number of meetings under the UN auspices that have been held to discuss this within the UN context, but unfortunately so far we do not have a framework image that has emerged as a result of that discussion.
We are running out of time, because the next year 2008 we will be entering into the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol, which will be concluded at the end of the year 2012. From 2013 on we do not have any framework in hand at this time. We need to have a framework which will be available universally, and then have that, most probably in terms of a treaty, a convention, that may have the name of a protocol, because it is within the context of the framework convention, and then once we agree on a text, and the content of that protocol or convention or whatever you may call it, it will have to be brought to the consent mechanism of most democratic systems, that is to say, have the parliament approve this treaty. After some number of countries approve that, of course depending on what we agree to be the triggering mechanism of giving this document legal effect, this treaty will come into force, as was the case with the Kyoto Protocol by the participation of Russia that made this protocol effective.
In other words, there are several steps that we need to accomplish before we indeed have a legally binding treaty that will address the issue of climate change from 2013 onwards. We have been discussing this issue for quite some time; unfortunately, as I said earlier, we do not see the light at the end of the tunnel; we do not know if we are in the tunnel already or not. The issue is as difficult and complicated as such.
Now, keeping all of this in mind, the Prime Minister is proposing that we should conduct our discussion under the three principles that he raised.
This first one, as is written in the text before you, is that all major emitters must participate. Mr. Kohno was referring to improving or having better than Kyoto Protocol, we call it moving beyond the Kyoto Protocol, and this should lead to global reduction of emissions. That is the first principle.
The second one, the framework must be flexible and diverse, because each country is in different economic stages of development, and there are a number of different circumstances that need to be taken into account.
The third principle is that the framework itself must ensure that it will be both compatible with environmental protection and economic growth - that economic growth should not be sacrificed for the sake of environmental protection, and at the same time because this is an urgent issue we need to act for climate change as well. That can be done through energy conservation and other technologies.
The Prime Minister also announced that Japan will be formulating a new financial mechanism in order to achieve a constructive result in this setting up of the new framework. This will be a mechanism that will extend loan assistance to developing countries that have high aspirations - those are the words he used - which means developing countries that are prepared to address the difficult issue of developing their economy while paying appropriate and due attention to global environment or what they could do best for their own response to climate change.
This mechanism is yet to be further elaborated; we will consult with the other countries about this idea, and then materialize this as we go along our way.
Of course the whole task of coping with climate change is a very difficult issue, and therefore we need new technologies, not the ones that exist today. The ones that exist today will not allow us to reduce the global emission by half by 2050.
The developing counties are currently developing their economies, and therefore they are the ones that will continue to increase their global emissions. We understand that industrialized world are the ones that will have to reduce their current emissions, and that is why the Kyoto Protocol system has imposed upon the developed countries a reduction in the emission while not putting on any obligation to the developing world.
This is the basic assumption of the Kyoto Protocol but this does not result in having all of the major emitters address their own emissions, and in order to achieve the reduction of global emissions we need to have all the major emitting countries come on board, and then do the best they can in addressing the increase of the global emissions. In order to do that we believe that a financial mechanism that will ensure that these developing countries move forward will be, or could be, useful.
This mechanism will also be addressing the issue of adaptation. Adaptation is a technical term that refers to countries that are in difficulty addressing the challenges of climate change.
Global warming is already having an effect, especially in some of the countries in the south. Some countries are losing their land because the sea level is rising; some countries are hit very hard by drought. That affects their food shortages which have been short to start with and it is getting worse. It also affects infectious disease; the spread is getting even wider. All of these issues are affecting... we are also, the industrialized world is also of course affected, but then we fortunately have the means and capacity to cope with them, while the countries that are not emitting gases are being subject to the threat of the emission by others and not being able to even survive in some cases. So we need to address that issue which is called adaptation under the technical term of the UN.
The third element, on which we also would like to be helpful, is to provide those countries that need, let us say, electricity, with means of energy access. If you tell counties that since global warming is a very serious issue you may not have access to electricity, I do not think any country will come forward and try to join our effort. It is important that countries who have access to energy, and when we mean this it is indicating energy that will be renewable, that will be environmentally-friendly, like solar, or wind, or other types, that will not be emitting gases, if that is possible.
Now, the third pillar that the Prime Minister has indicated in his speech is launching a national campaign. This campaign is aimed at two things. One is the overall transformation of the Japanese socio-economic life into a low carbon society. That means a Japan that survives on less carbon-intensive energy, or less carbon-intensive products. In other words, I do not know if this is really good, the light is very, very strong, I do not know whether this is the energy-saving light. If it is not the case I think I recommend the press bureau to change this. One of the things is changing the bulbs; light bulbs are a very ineffective means of lighting. About 98 percent or so of the energy is heat. So, light bulbs are really heating devices not lighting devices. But if it is the florescent light that you see here, that percentage is improved by a half or so. Still, of course, it emits heat, but then lighting is also available with less energy. That is just one example. Deeper than that, going beyond the three Rs that you know, the Prime Minister is calling on the Japanese people at large to start thinking of how each individual can contribute in reducing the overall gas emission.
This of course, as I said, has two objectives. One of course is this overall change in the approaches by the people, but the second is an effort to achieve the target of the Kyoto Protocol, which is -6 percent compared to the level of 1990, starting from 2008 going through to 2012. This is a very lofty target for us, and we really need to do all we can to achieve that.
I will stop here, and then be prepared to take questions. Thank you.
VII. Question concerning the ability of the proposed new financial mechanism to encourage the involvement of large emitters of greenhouse gases
Q: You mentioned the importance of getting as many countries involved, especially the large emitters of these gases. Do you feel that the new - you mentioned the new financial mechanism to the developing countries - do you think that is going to be the key to bringing, for example, the United States of America onboard with this new post-Kyoto framework?
Mr. Tsuruoka: I do not think the new financial mechanism will bring the United States in. the Prime Minister named three counties in his speech: the United States, China, and India. The largest, the United States; the second largest, China; the fifth largest, India, in terms of their gas emissions globally. Now, if we do not have an effective inclusion of these large emitters in the post-Kyoto framework, the Kyoto Protocol, or the task of going beyond the Kyoto Protocol, will not be achieved.
Let me just as an example tell you what is the Kyoto Protocol average today. The countries that are signatories or parties to the Kyoto Protocol cover 30 percent of the total global emission of greenhouse gases. Now, the Kyoto Protocol system mandates, or makes it mandatory for global emission, what they call the annex I countries, which is, in short, the industrialized countries. The various country targets as you may know are different from one country to another.
Now, even if every obligation accepted and committed to by these annex I countries have been fulfilled to perfection, the total reduction in global emissions will be 3 percent. 97 percent is outside. Of course it is better than zero. But if we know the urgency of the issue, I think we would be fooling ourselves that this is sufficient. And therefore the title of the speech being "Invitation." Invitation extended to all.
We are not inviting specific chosen countries. We are inviting everyone to come on board. We believe that this is a global issue. All countries are at risk, and all countries have, of course there is difference as to the degree, but the duty and capability of responding well to this issue. And that is why, as I said earlier, we also emphasize the element of flexibility and diversity.
If we say, or if the agreement is to say, "we will only allow you to do A, and not B," because A is 100 percent and B is 50 percent, you may end up having B completely leave the room because they have been insulted and they don't think that their efforts are going to be valued. This is kind of an effect that we had in the Kyoto Protocol experience. The United States, although being one of the promoters of the Kyoto Protocol, never joined, because they could not sell it, the Government at that time could not sell the Kyoto Protocol to their own Senate, or the people, or their industries.
We are also seeing under the Kyoto Protocol participation by the major emitters, China and India, two countries named by the Prime Minister, are parties to the Kyoto Protocol, but they are not taking on any commitment of any kind. Come next year, China will probably surpass the United States as being the largest emitter. Now, if the largest emitter is under no sense of contribution to the emission that they make, would that be a convincing fact to ask others to do more, or to do something that may not necessarily be very welcome?
These are questions that we need to continue to address. We do not have answers to them, and we have been debating this all over. The debate so far has been very confrontational, unfortunately, because the pretext has been "you do more; don't ask me what I do." The United States is outside, so never mind what happens in the implementation of Kyoto Protocol, they say they are indeed making their own effort domestically and independently of the international framework, in reducing their global emission. Fortunately some of this is true, and we appreciate that. But if we are to address a global issue, we believe that it can be best addressed and more effectively addressed if we can coordinate the efforts globally, and that is why we insist very strongly at the very outset that we include each and every country, in particular the major emitters, to come on board.
Let's not start discussing details before everyone is prepared to do that. Because if you go forward, and then you have already traveled miles before others were ready, the others may think that we have gone too far and then they will abandon trying to join us. This is a sort of philosophical discussion of how we will approach starting a very difficult negotiating process. We know that this is very, very difficult. We have already experienced that. But one thing that the Prime Minister is trying to relate to the rest of the world is that this is not something that we are doing for the first time.
We have the Kyoto Protocol experience. We also have in Japan in particular the implementation experience of the Kyoto Protocol targets. If we are to do this again, why don't we take lessons from what we can learn from the Kyoto Process? We do not want to do only 30 percent average resulting in 3 percent emission reduction. We really want to be much more ambitious than that, because time is running out, and because we know that 2050 is going to be a very critical year.
It is a welcoming fact that most countries in the world are now realizing that something has to be done by 2050. What we should do, or what can be done, is still yet to be identified. Let us try to work on a schedule that we know that we can deliver with the participation of all the countries, and that will have to be a very modest starting point, but then hopefully it will result in a very large achievement that makes a difference for the future of the globe. That is the thought of it.
VIII. Question concerning Japan's ability to meet its Kyoto Protocol target
Q: Japan has had some trouble reaching its Kyoto targets. Greenhouse gas emissions are going up rather than going down.
Does that put Japan in a difficult position as far as trying to take leadership on this issue?
Mr. Tsuruoka: Now, first of all the facts. The Kyoto Protocol puts Japan under obligation of reducing the Japanese greenhouse gas emissions by 6 percent average during the term of 2008 to 2012 compared to the level of 1990. The latest figure that I know of what we are emitting today is +8 percent compared to 1990. So rather than moving closer to the target we are emitting more. The total is going to be 6+8=14, which is going to be the reduction that we need to accomplish in order to achieve the target of the Kyoto Protocol.
That is one point. Second point, the Japanese approach to realizing this target has been a national work under the cabinet decision. An action plan was formulated; I think it was a year ago, or a year and a half ago. We are in the process of now revising that plan, and we will have a new plan fairly soon, and then before the end of the fiscal year we will have a final plan that the cabinet will decide on to achieve this target.
That is going to be very comprehensive, sector wide, addressing all walks of life, so to say. The speech itself is already calling on households, which have not been identified in the past - you have leaflets that describe that in front of you as part of the package of documents - and the national campaign is both expanding in terms of coverage and in terms of depth of what we are trying to do. This is going to be even further promoted by the Prime Minister himself.
Now, we have no hesitation to say that Japan will achieve what we have committed to. In the past it has always been true. When we say we will achieve this, at the end of the day, or by the time the homework has to be returned, we have always accomplished that, and we have no reason to doubt our capability of doing this also at this time. It is a process that will evolve during the time from now until the end of 2012.
One cannot say in any definitive way whether a target is achievable or not. We believe that it is unfortunate that the Canadian Government has decided to abandon achieving the target that they have agreed on under the Kyoto Protocol. I don't know what were their considerations in leaving this target behind, but in our case we are not even dreaming of doing that. We will definitely go forward in achieving the target that we have committed to in the Kyoto Protocol.
You will see - you already have some of that in the pamphlet - you will be seeing much more of these measures that will come onboard. The Prime Minister is inviting the Japanese people to come up with proposals. If you have one you can already go to the webpage and propose something to us, and if that is constructive we will adopt that. It will be a really nationally driven campaign, and we believe that it will have the desired effect.
IX. Question concerning Japan's non-involvement in the European Union's proposal on climate change
Q: Some observers think that it should make sense for Japan to join with the European Union on a common proposal, but they say that it is not going to happen because at this stage Japan does not wish to isolate or irritate the United States on this issue. What do you think of this theory?
Mr. Tsuruoka: As Mr. Kohno stated earlier, there are political elements, undeniably, in the discussion of climate change. But we are not looking at this issue as an element of irritation to one and music to others, because we are trying to add value to what has already been done.
Now, we know that the Europeans have made their decision, for example, to reduce the EU emission by 20 percent by the year 2020. That is very respectable, and we have absolutely no objection to that, but we are asking the question, has that decision produced any additional country coming on board, because that is the question that we are asking.
We are not worried about countries that are already tackling this issue full strength: EU, Japan, those counties that are under the binding of the Kyoto Protocol, they will continue to do that, but the question that needs to be addressed today as top priority is how capable will we be in expanding the scope that will lead to the global reduction of emission in the future. The EU position as I understand is to say, "Well, since I am doing this much, of course you will do X,Y,Z." I need to be convinced. If the EU approach produces the participation in a meaningful way, let us say the United States, or some major commitment by China, I will be the first to propose to my Government that we should take the EU path. Unfortunately we have not seen one country that is saying they will do X, because the EU does Y, and that is not the working mechanism of this negotiation as far as we know so far. It may turn into that at some time, and we are not objecting to what the EU is doing, but what we try to do is add value to this negotiation that could result in having this coverage more expanded, and more extensive. And that is why we are intentionally not imitating or copying what the European Union is with this proposal.
X. Question concerning the involvement of other countries in technology transfer
Q: It is about technology transfer. The Abe Initiative mentioned the widespread use of new technology. Is Japan calling on advanced countries to look to be prepared for transfer of technology to developing countries also?
Mr. Tsuruoka: Technology transfer I think is extremely critical, and very important in bringing the developing countries, and not really limited to the developing countries but even other industrialized countries at the same level of energy saving or environmental protection as perhaps Japan is.
The same could be said of the other industrialized countries that are ahead of other countries in terms of technological capability. If the transfer takes place, the economic growth of the other countries could be much more friendly, friendlier to the environment, because it will be energy saving, and it will be less emitting of global warming gases, and therefore we are going to promote more technology transfer, but it will also have to look into the very delicate issue of how you balance the commercial interests and the public interests that I have just referred to.
The financial mechanism that we are proposing, we are currently considering how we could effectively utilize that as a means of promoting more effective technical transfer. Unfortunately, nothing comes for free in this world, so you have to have some financial backing to whatever you do.
If we are talking about Government resources, you may know that we are already engaged in providing technical training to the officials of environmental agencies around the world from the developing countries. That in itself is costly in terms of providing training, but that is not giving technology for commercial use, it is more capacity building in terms of administration that makes them effective implementers of policies in the developing world.
That technical training will of course continue to take place, but I think what we are saying is, and you could see this in the speech, an emphasis on technology. The technology will not be effective unless it is shared and used by other countries in the world at large.
One of the programs that we are currently implementing is what we call the Asia-Pacific Partnership (APP), and this is comprising six countries: Japan, the United States, the Commonwealth of Australia, the Republic of Korea, India, and China, and this is a scheme that looks at the energy efficiency of the different sectors, steel, cement, and others, that are energy intensive.
We are identifying what are the currently available technologies that will make possible for those industries spread in those different six countries to achieve the most efficient use of energy and the most environmentally-friendly operation.
Now, if you identify those technologies, the next question will be, "would that be commercially possible to share?" and that is where the financial mechanism could play a very important role.
That is what we are very interested in, and we will continue to discuss this further with countries that may have an interest. But I also have to say that nothing goes for free, and this has to be in coordination with the overall climate change policies of countries that will look for those technologies, because we are not insisting on our own narrow Japanese interests to be promoted. We are insisting that we join our hands in addressing a global issue, and that is why we think we need to also do policy coordination as we mobilize our own resources.
Mr. Taniguchi: With that, I am afraid I must close the session.
Thank you all very much once again for coming, and thank you also Mr. Tsuruoka for your elaboration.
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