Statement by Ambassador Koji Tsuruoka, Director-General for Global Issues
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
At the Informal Thematic Debate of the General Assembly
"Climate Change as a Global Challenge"
August 1, 2007
Climate change is the most pressing environmental challenge facing humankind, and it demands the concerted effort of the entire international community. In addressing this challenge, we must ensure that environment and development are in harmony with each other by promoting sustainable development. We welcome discussion among Member States as an important first step towards a global response to climate change. I would like to offer my government's appreciation for the leadership of the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly in holding this conference.
As a responsible member of the international community and the host country of the negotiations that led to the Kyoto Protocol, Japan is striving to take the lead in tackling global warming. It was with such resolve that in May of this year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Japan's new initiative known as "Cool Earth 50."
In order to stabilize concentrations of greenhouse gases, the international community must share a long-term vision. "Cool Earth 50" proposes the goal of reducing greenhouse gases to half their current level by 2050 and calls for achieving a global consensus on sharing that goal. This is just the kind of long-term vision that is needed to arouse global action. At the same time, I also wish to emphasize that this goal cannot be realized without innovative technologies, such as zero-emission coal-fired power stations.
Currently, the creation of an international framework for addressing global warming beyond 2012 is the focus of international discussion. Japan's fundamental position is that a renewed framework, in order to be effective, must include all major emitting countries.
Given this position, Japan has proposed three principles: (1) all major emitters must participate in the new framework, thus moving beyond the Kyoto Protocol and leading to a global reduction of emissions; (2) the framework must be flexible and diverse, taking into consideration the circumstances of each country; and (3) the framework must achieve compatibility between environmental protection and economic growth by utilizing energy-saving devices and new technologies.
In order to realize these principles, Japan will extend wide-ranging support to those developing countries that support its position and make efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve economic growth in an environmentally sound manner. To facilitate this objective, we will establish a new "financial mechanism" to provide large-scale, long-term assistance. Through this mechanism, Japan will support developing countries' efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to climate change, and promote the utilization of clean energy.
In addition, Japan will also approach the issue from the viewpoint of energy measures, and promote to formulate self-disciplined energy conservation goals and an action plan.
Combating global warming will require not only new technologies but also changes in people's awareness and lifestyles. The "Cool Earth 50" initiative recognizes the need to involve every individual in the fight against climate change. In Japan, the public is being mobilized through various awareness campaigns such as "COOL BIZ", in which government offices adopt a no-necktie, no-jacket dress code during summer months, thus reducing the demand for air conditioning. Another widely promoted campaign, called "1 person, 1 day, 1 kg," encourages people to reduce their carbon footprint by adopting low-carbon lifestyles. I would like to propose that similar bottom-up measures be implemented at the United Nations, including setting air conditioners at 28 degrees Celsius and strictly observing the starting and closing times of meetings.
A flurry of international meetings on climate change will be held in the next twelve months, including the UN High-level meeting in September and COP13 in December. The government of Japan anticipates that climate change will be an important agenda item at the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit, which we will host next year. I hope these forums will yield results that will lead to the construction of an effective international framework on global warming.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Africa is one of the regions that is most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. As was agreed at the TICAD Ministerial Conference on Energy and Environment for Sustainable Development convened in Nairobi in March of this year, adaptation and energy access are major challenges to development in Africa. The environment and climate change will likely be one of the three main topics of TICAD IV, which will be held in May 2008 in Japan. The outcomes of TICAD will be fed into the G8 process.
Climate change is not an issue that can be left on the back burner. It is essential that discussion within various international processes, including the G8 Summit, converge with discussions that are ongoing within the UNFCCC. The government of Japan expects that the United Nations will play a pivotal role in the creation of an effective framework beyond 2012.
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