Press Conference, 8 July 2008
Speaker: Ambassador Koji Tsuruoka
Title: Director-General for Global Issues, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
- G8 Working Lunch
- Question concerning the content of paragraph 23 of the Statement on Environment and Climate Change
- Question concerning the base year to be used in negotiations on measures to address the issue of climate change
- Follow up question concerning the content of paragraph 23 of the Statement on Environment and Climate Change
- Question concerning the G8 Summit discussion on the issue of climate change
- Question concerning the outcome of the G8 Summit discussion on the issue of climate change
- Follow up questions concerning the base year to be used in negotiations on measures to address the issue of climate change
- Question concerning the UNFCCC Adaptation Fund
- Question concerning mid-term targets to address the issue of climate change
- Question concerning mitigation measures to address the issue of climate change
I. G8 Working Lunch
Ambassador Koji Tsuruoka, Director-General for Global Issues: Good evening ladies and gentlemen. I am Koji Tsuruoka and I am here to brief you on the Working Lunch that took place from around 13:00 to 14:20 among the G8 leaders. The topic of discussion was climate change and the environment in general, and according to the rules of G8 briefings, I cannot quote directly what leaders other than the Japanese Prime Minister stated directly. I will however indicate the issues that were discussed and give you a brief outline of what those discussions were.
Let me start first by introducing the topic that was discussed. This was done by way of Prime Minister Fukuda acting as the president of the meeting, introducing the issues for discussion. They include first, the long-term goal. Second, the mid-term goal of the peak-out, as well as national mid-terms goals and sectoral approaches on technology, technological development, energy efficiency and clean energy, on cooperation with developing countries, adaptation and mitigation and some others. Prime Minister Fukuda opened the Lunch by indicating that these are the main issues that the leaders may want to address in the deliberation through lunch.
After setting that, Prime Minister Fukuda spoke as the representative of Japan and he mentioned the following points. First, in the 21st century which followed the 20th century that had experienced unprecedented prosperity based on carbon energy - fossil energy for that matter - we are now facing the task of global warming and depletion of resources. The current Summit is an important summit that is seeking to present a long-term prospect on whether or not the global community can abandon the excessive reliance on fossil energy and move onto a low-carbon society. He also mentioned that Japan welcomes the launching of the climate investment fund which would be used to address developing countries' needs in addressing climate change and the wish that as many countries as possible will participate in this fund.
And then the floor was opened for discussion and we had a number of leaders speaking and presenting their views. Let me give you a brief summary of what I understand to be the general thrust of what they have stated. On a long-term goal, the leaders acknowledged that the mention of a long-term goal in the leaders' communiqué is an appropriate one and that this represents progress from what the G8 had agreed at Heiligendamm in the sense that it is not only sharing of the reduction of at least 50% by the year 2050 as a vision, but also it is inclusive of a joint call for the overall membership of the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) and in particular the major economies to negotiate and adopt the UN negotiation process, this vision of a long-term goal. There were many and almost all who stated that, as was announced in the document, this 50 by 2050 is a very ambitious and tall order for all countries to achieve and that this target will not be achieved unless there is meaningful and effective participation by the developing world and in particular the emerging economies; this was the overall thrust of the discussion on the long-term goal.
Almost all leaders spoke on the subject and there was a general sharing of the progress that was achieved since Heiligendamm, and also repeating myself briefly, the need to do this globally because of the global nature of the issue and because the goal will not be attainable if it were only left to the advanced industrialized countries to reduce their emissions.
Now there were discussions on a national mid-term goal not in a way of identifying concrete figures, but in a way that indicates the necessary efforts each and every country should make in order to move toward the achievement of the long-term goal, the vision of which has been shared. It was mentioned in this debate that the sectoral approach is a useful tool for national emissions reductions to be structured and there was also strong emphasis on improving energy efficiency. There was mention of strengthening international partnerships for the promotion of energy efficiency as well as enhancing international cooperation in improving energy efficiency. The International Energy Agency (IEA), is suggesting 25 means of improving energy efficiency and it was suggested that further work be done by the G8 in conjunction with the IEA efforts to further promote energy efficiency because improving energy efficiency will directly impact the amount of emissions and this is a tool or a means that is readily available to be utilized.
Prime Minister Fukuda intervened on the subject of energy efficiency and he introduced efforts by Japanese industries especially on household electrical appliances, improving energy efficiency over the past decade or so. He stated that Japanese industry was able to reduce the electricity consumption of refrigerators over the last decade or so by 90%. Refrigerators today run on 10% of electricity compared to 10 years ago. He also mentioned televisions which are now moving beyond tube into the thin television with a 50% reduction and some can even go into one-third of electricity consumed. The Prime Minister indicated that sharing these products and technologies will have a very meaningful, significant impact of reducing the consumption of electricity and therefore contribute toward reducing emissions. There was also talk about the need and importance of assisting the developing countries in their efforts in adapting to climate change. The fund which Prime Minister Fukuda referred to earlier was welcomed and an effective use of the fund has been discussed.
After that, as a means of reducing emissions, the issue of ethanol was discussed. There were questions raised as to the availability of objective information informing us of the interrelationship between the food prices hike and the production of ethanol and it was considered that it would be useful to have more objective evidence-based discussion in addressing the issue of biofuels. There were two views that I believe were converging out of this discussion on biofuels. One, that if correctly addressed, ethanol is certainly a very useful means of addressing emissions or climate change in general. Second, that it should also keep in mind the effect on food security. And the third point, and these are all kind of unanimous points, but the third point in particular was strengthened by all, is the need to accelerate the development of second-generation ethanol. The ethanol produced from cellulose or wood chips, non-edible materials turned into ethanol, the Group identified the need of accelerating and further strengthening the development of the technology that will allow second-generation ethanol to be available. Therefore the sooner we arrive at the stage of using those as necessary inputs for ethanol, the better.
Let me stop here and then perhaps take questions, but before I do that, just one final word. The Chair, Prime Minister Fukuda, asked whether the text that was prepared and discussed could be adopted and everyone agreed that this is a good document and there were no objections for its adoption. I think you already have that with you.
II. Question concerning the content of paragraph 23 of the Statement on Environment and Climate Change
Q: I am slightly uncertain about the 50% target. I think the text is a little bit soft, so I was just wondering if you have an opinion on if the UNFCCC does not adopt this vision along with the G8, where does that leave the G8? Is it bound by this at all if that happens?
Ambassador Tsuruoka: This is not reflecting the discussion over lunch because they did not discuss the issue in the way you just framed. I am just going to share with you my understanding of what that question could be.
The consultation that led to the formulation of paragraph 23 as you see it, considered among various points two issues. One, we of course were mindful of what the G8 agreed at Heiligendamm last year which was to seriously consider the 50-50 with the Canadian, EU and Japanese contribution in mind; that was the first point.
The second point was to make it more progressive in terms of promoting progress within the UN negotiation because at Heiligendamm there was no UN negotiation going on. It was only after Bali that the process was launched. Now given these two considerations, the discussion led to formulating an approach that would be more action-oriented than having some kind of an agreement or understanding on a static figure. This is because precisely, as you can see in what it is saying, that the G8 is looking toward UNFCCC negotiations as the vehicle for producing the post-2012 framework. And if you look at paragraph 24, the first line, you can also identify the interrelationship - setting of the long-term goal has been clearly connected with the mid-term goals and national plans. Though it is a package that you now see addressing the initial point which was moving beyond and making progress over what Heiligendamm had achieved, you can see that if you don't agree or don't take part in sharing this 50-50, you will not call upon others to come on board. So of course the G8 has now come to a common understanding that this long-term goal is the vision that the G8 leaders share.
Now the question that was more debated is whether sharing it will suffice - and sharing it or having an agreement on the desirability of identifying a number is in itself an important political action, but it does not in itself produce results. Results meaning actual action that will lead to mitigation of emissions and therefore, looking at the objective facts that are in front of us, it was apparent that unless there is the cooperation and participation by countries outside of the G8 in sharing this long-term objective, there would be no possibility - and the word "challenge" was used to identify that - that this goal will be achieved or met.
We now know only too well that even if the advanced industrialized countries reduce their emissions to zero, then business as usual on the part of the developing world by 2050 is not going to give us reduction by half, so this is just speaking the truth. That was the issue in mind as this was addressed and of course because - and I am sure that some of you may be asking this - in parallel with the G8 effort in the past year or maybe nine months or so, we have had the MEM process that has been going on and therefore the call for all major economies of course is keeping in mind the possibility of discussing this issue together with the major economies who will be gathering tomorrow.
Perhaps I could go on a little bit in identifying paragraph 24 that addresses the mid-term goal because these are interrelated. If you look at paragraph 24, a very specific reference to the usefulness of sectoral approaches is there, and then the document moves on to say that in this respect - this is the second sentence on the second page - the leadership role of each us, meaning the G8 leadership role, is acknowledged and it is stating further that ambitious economy-wide mid-term goals for absolute emissions reductions will be implemented. And this is a statement of the G8 leaders for implementation of their economy-wide emissions reductions targets and this is not linked in any way to any other parts that you may refer to. This is a categorical statement by the G8 leaders that this is what they are going to do. Now of course there are various qualifiers as you can see which follow that. So that is a long answer to a very short question.
III. Question concerning the base year to be used in negotiations on measures to address the issue of climate change
Q: I just wanted to know whether there was any discussion or any agreement on the base years throughout this, both in terms of when we are talking about reductions, 2050, whether there is an agreement on a 1990 base year or the current year or 2005 or something in between? Also, when we were talking about the mid-term range whether that is specified as being to 2020 or 2025 or some other year and whether there is disagreement on that or agreement on that within the talks?
Ambassador Tsuruoka: First of all there was no discussion on the base year, so a very clear-cut answer to your question is just that.
Q: Does that mean it stays at 1990?
Ambassador Tsuruoka: That is up for interpretation. If you look at the document, again it does not refer to the base year which is by design and not a coincidence. You can understand, especially when you look at the long-term goal which refers to at least a reduction by 50%. It is not saying 50% and neither is it a legally-binding commitment, not just in this forum, but elsewhere as well. On the long-term goal there has not been a discussion that this ought to be a legally-binding target and therefore no need for specificity of the nature of commitment. This is more of a political vision that the G8 as a whole is now trying to engage the rest of the world in and therefore there was no particular recognition that we need to put this in a sense of identifying a base year.
On the mid-term, this is envisaging - if I could again refer you to what paragraph 24 says, the last sentence of that paragraph says, "meaningful mitigation actions to be bound in international agreement to be negotiated." But binding under international agreement is a common understanding that of course the G8 will naturally take on board and that is why this is mentioned but the issue of the mid-term goal was not discussed in any detail because this is in my view, not necessarily the appropriate time to do that. So again, going back to my short answer, the issue of the base year was not discussed among the leaders.
IV. Follow up question concerning the content of paragraph 23 of the Statement on Environment and Climate Change
Q: I wonder if you could help me in explaining the significance of some of the language, which is in places rather wordy. If we strip out some of the subordinate clauses, one of the key sentences reads, "We seek to share the vision of, the goal of, achieving at least 50% reduction of global emissions." What is the difference between saying that and saying, "We seek at least a 50% reduction"?
Ambassador Tsuruoka: I am not a native English speaker and I think I should not be preaching to a native English speaker how to read...
Q: Well this native English speaker doesn't understand it.
Ambassador Tsuruoka: There were some native English speakers in the drafting of this document and you could perhaps refer that question to them. I am afraid of making a misstep on the basis of English and therefore I would rather not answer that.
V. Question concerning the G8 Summit discussion on the issue of climate change
Q: Secondly, could you characterize the mood or the atmosphere in these negotiations. Were they difficult or strained or impassioned or was it all a bit of a breeze?
Ambassador Tsuruoka: There were two stages obviously. One was the discussion that led to the drafting of a document to be presented to the leaders. I think it is no secret that there were different views. There was a view that said very simply stated - and I am really doing this is an abbreviated way so I am sure that those who were pushing for that position would have further words on that - but just to illustrate the point, one objective was to have a simple wording saying we agree on a 50-50 long-term goal.
The other view was that just stating the agreement is not enough because stating the agreement is not going to produce any action that will lead toward achieving that agreed goal; these were the two differing views, but they were not necessarily different from the viewpoint of the presidency, which needs to come up with a single formulation that everybody can agree on. And in fact, the second position that I just referred to, is presupposing that there is this sharing of the 50-50 or the long-term goal, but the emphasis was more on whether that can be made achievable just by having it stated that we believe that this is good. So this was the interrelationship of the lengthy discussions that produced this phrasing and that was the first phase.
The second phase and final phase is discussions amongst the leaders. The leaders discussed this very openly and in a very straightforward fashion, and the point that all that spoke indicated was that the agreement of sharing 50-50 by the G8 is good. Second, it is also good and would like to see the total membership of the UNFCCC, in particular the emerging economies, coming on board in sharing this vision, but the emphasis from all of the speakers was to make certain that we make progress toward achieving that goal. This cuts sort of both ways: we the G8 need to do a lot more and make real efforts in order to move toward that long-term goal and this in terms of both in peaking out and setting its own national emissions reductions target that I introduced, referring to paragraph 24, but also making sure that the G8 or the advanced industrialized countries alone will not be able to achieve this global challenge. This was the part that the leaders in their exchange emphasized more than any other part. So when the leaders discussed this, and perhaps because of the preparation that was conducted beforehand, the discussion was very well engaging and I think there was not much that you could see as differences of view on the issue around the long-term goal. I am not saying that there were no differences of view on everything, but on this issue, my impression was that there was a very strong understanding that this was something they fully support.
VI. Question concerning the outcome of the G8 Summit discussion on the issue of climate change
Q: I have two closely related questions. First, and you have described this as "progress," would you describe it as a breakthrough?
Second, on the mid-term goals, just going through the language again: each of us will implement ambitious economy-wide mid-term goals in order to achieve absolute emissions reductions and where applicable, first stop the growth of emissions as soon as possible. Could "as soon as possible" and "mid-term" be one and the same, i.e. is the commitment here merely to stop carbon emissions from growing and not to cut them?
Ambassador Tsuruoka: That is for you to judge but I think we would be too naive to expect that a negotiation on an issue as difficult as climate change can come to a breakthrough within even less than a year. We just started negotiations in Bali and therefore depending on the definition of the word "breakthrough" if you indicate that breakthrough is a sort of door that brings us into immediate results that we can congratulate ourselves on, that is much too soon.
I would however say that this is a very important and significant step forward which I think I can certainly call this progress and certainly compared to what happened last year at Heiligendamm. This is not because we are doing this in Japan or because there was any particular difference in the G8 composition compared to last year and this year. The very important objective conditions which changed are the launching of the Bali COP13 negotiation that should be concluded by 2009. The countries represented in the G8 are all taking part in that negotiation. At Heiligendamm we did not know whether one major country would indeed take part in that negotiation, when and if that negotiation is launched. That is completely different from the time we were at Heiligendamm and that is why we believe that it is absolutely necessary that we keep in mind pushing the negotiation process of the UN forward to be the objective of the G8 this time. But the negotiation still has one and a half years to go and there will have to be many breakthroughs. I think the word breakthrough is a legitimate word when you consider many of the difficult issues that the member states have to overcome in resolving them. The G8 alone cannot achieve that.
I would like to emphasize, however, at the same time that the commitment that the G8 had made both in paragraph 23 and paragraph 24, indicate clearly the leadership role that we the G8 will try to play, and is a very important indication that the G8 has put itself squarely in the position of pushing the UN process forward. That is, in my view at least, significant process compared to Heiligendamm, helped also by what the UN member states have agreed to launch in Bali in December 2007.
Q: The second part of the question?
Ambassador Tsuruoka: Oh yes, sorry. Because there are different countries in different positions within the G8, it had to be addressed to be inclusive of all countries. There is one country which is not party to what the others are, and therefore we have to have a differentiated reference to that and this is what is shown in this first stop because most of the countries have stopped; some have not.
Of course it has to be done as soon as possible because we are talking about first of all the long-term goal, also the peaking out as soon as possible in the near future, and this has to be consistent with these understandings on top of the UNFCCC requirement. Now, the qualifier does not decrease the importance of the very straight-forward commitment for implementing an ambitious economy-wide mid-term goal. So that part in combination with stop the growth, halt it, and then start reducing of course are interconnected but the emphasis here is more on the first part and then the latter part was to address the certain position of a certain country to be inclusive in this sentence.
VII. Follow up questions concerning the base year to be used in negotiations on measures to address the issue of climate change
Q: Going back to the baseline, I wanted to be sure first of all, I had heard that the Prime Minister indicated at the press conference that the baseline for the 50-50 was current. Is that the case? And secondly, when the G8 leaders last year said that they would seriously consider the 50-50, was it not commonly understood that the base year was 1990?
Ambassador Tsuruoka: My answer to the question was the issue of the baseline was not discussed in the Working Lunch among the G8 leaders. So, I answered the factual situation of whether or not baseline was discussed in the Working Lunch or not. But my answer to your question, referring to Prime Minister Fukuda's statement, that in his understanding, the long-term goal has a base year of current, is one understanding that the Japanese Government has consistently stated. There are different positions of different countries in identifying whether or not there is a need first of all for a base year and secondly if there is, what the base year is when it comes to a long-term goal. The same issue was with us at Heiligendamm. The issue of base year was neither discussed nor agreed nor specified at Heiligendamm either.
Now, if I could just go a bit further in elaborating why it is possible to have these differing views reflected in the current wording, not that I am going to challenge the English grammar for that, but two words are important. And that is "at least" that you see before 50%. Now if you are specific about reducing an amount from a given year then you either have to state the base year to identify what specific volume we are referring to. The agreement in Heiligendamm was also to set up an aspirational long-term vision which will start sending the message to the world that this is indeed a very, very high order that we need to mobilize various resources and there was no practical necessity of specifying a base year and so forth, although there are positions that countries have stated previously from which they have no intention of departing.
Now how do you do that? Fifty percent as a target is for, with the exception of two countries, at Heiligendamm, was the position that the G8 countries, except two, were prepared to accept, but there were those who were trying to go even deeper than that depending on how you look at the base year. So this at least covers that because it does not alienate any particular countries' publicly announced position.
This year, we continued to use the same formulation but we had two countries that were not taking part in Heiligendamm, therefore being the reasons for serious consideration, now moving out from the declaration language, reference to consideration but moving on to having it shared with them. So that is another way of putting it as to how we look at this as progress.
Q: Do I understand you right that the base year is a non-issue and it will remain a non-issue unless one of the G8 countries brings it up? Also, do I understand you right that the presidency has achieved its objectives in regard to the climate change part of the negotiations or do you have to give in at some point?
Ambassador Tsuruoka: Climate change discussion can turn into very technical talk using UN jargon without being able to define it very precisely because whenever you use UN document there are 192 interpretations of the word. Therefore the leaders are not prepared to go into that so the issue of a base year was not something they considered to be an issue that they could spend their time on in any meaningful way. So that is where it is. Of course in the negotiation, a base year will become an issue but that is not for the G8 to address, especially at this point in time.
Whether the Japanese presidency of the G8 believes we were able to achieve what we have anticipated, well of course it is always yes and no. You can be ambitious: unless the president is ambitious, there is no progress. Whether we were able to put in everything that we had wanted as Japan, not just as the presidency, well you could see that there are certain points that Prime Minister Fukuda mentioned, both in his speech at Davos and his speech explaining the Fukuda Vision that did not make it into this declaration. Are we disappointed by that? Not necessarily because we have been able to achieve consensus among the G8 and although I have spent so much time in discussing a long-term goal, that is not the only part of what the leaders have agreed to do and if you look at the other parts which I will refer to, for example on adaptation, these are very significant results.
I was referring to what Bali had done and it is against the background of Bali that the G8 leaders have discussed this and therefore, beyond Heiligendamm they have a platform on which they need to consider the various issues. That is why the document that you have now is much more comprehensive than the one we had after Heiligendamm; it is only natural and it had to be done. We are happy that we were able to address the various elements that are very relevant in the continuing negotiation in the UN context and for that, both in the sense of being in the presidency as well as Japan being a country very seriously engaged in promoting responses to climate change, I think we can say we are happy with what we have been able to achieve.
VIII. Question concerning the UNFCCC Adaptation Fund
Q: Referring to paragraph 30 which talks about mainstreaming adaptation into broader development strategies and encouraging developing countries themselves to integrate adaptation into their development policies, I understand there is funding for this. Will it be part of Official Development Assistance (ODA) or will it be additional funding?
Ambassador Tsuruoka: On adaptation, paragraph 30, or overall, cooperation and assistance to the developing world, we believe that this is an issue of particular importance to the G8 to discuss because the G8 is not only capable but are called for providing their resources, mobilizing them, to assist the developing countries that are in need, both in terms of mitigation and also on adaptation. This was discussed as I introduced to you, in the leaders' meeting, and there was emphasis on adaptation in particular because countries that need the cooperation assistance on the adaptation side are mostly countries that are not emitting greenhouse gases (GHG) because they are not necessarily developed with industry that emit the GHG. Therefore it is an important issue that we believe we need to address. For that matter, if you look at the last sentence of paragraph 30, you can see a clear reference to the UNFCCC Adaptation Fund.
This Fund is the fund that is part of the Bali Roadmap and it is in formulation now. It is yet to become operational and we would like to make this operational as soon as possible and this is why the G8 leaders have included a specific reference to this fund, making it clear that we believe the fund should make an important contribution. Once the fund becomes operational, there may be further talks about how we will mobilize further resources to make it more engaged and more operational, but first of all, as a mechanism that will address the needs of developing countries, this specific idea of the fund, is and must be implemented and become operational; this is something the leaders have very strongly in their mind.
Q: And the ODA aspect?
Ambassador Tsuruoka: The Adaptation Fund, for example, has a certain small percentage point that they receive from the CDM (Clean Development Mechanism) that is already in operation so that is not necessarily ODA. There are various resources that can be made available. It could be ODA, it could be concessional loans - there really are a variety of different sources. It doesn't have to be funding as such, it could be technical assistance or providing training for capacity building and there are many, many ways that countries with the capability to do so could assist the developing countries in need in formulating their climate change policy.
IX. Question concerning mid-term targets to address the issue of climate change
Q: Could you elaborate a little more about the mid-term targets? Do you mean it is up to each country to decide or set targets either for 2020 or 2030 or any other year? And also has there been a discussion on the deadline for setting a target or is it also up to each country?
Ambassador Tsuruoka: The question seems to be asking about the UN discussions rather than the G8 discussion on climate change. My simple answer to that is that both of these points are undecided and it will be up to the UN forum to decide. This is a relevant point and it will be discussed and there will be a decision by the contracting parties on how to address those, but this is not a G8 question.
X. Question concerning mitigation measures to address the issue of climate change
Q: In light of what has been decided today, is it hoped that the five emerging economies that will be represented at the outreach meeting tomorrow will agree to some kind of meaningful mitigation actions following in the spirit of this communiqué?
Ambassador Tsuruoka: The MEM meeting which is going to be held in conjunction with this G8 Summit as part of the outreach program will be composed of eight additional countries on top of the G8. These are: Brazil, India, China, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Australia, and South Africa; of course they are not G8 members. The G8 will be engaged with them tomorrow and as I said a bit earlier, this is a peculiar G8 Summit because the same subjects have been discussed in parallel in two tracks. So tomorrow we will be seeing hopefully a convergence of that and see if that can indeed happen.
I cannot really tell you how the other countries or the eight of them will respond to what the G8 has done today. Because this result has been produced by the leaders themselves and continuous consultation leading up to just prior to the actual discussion taking place among the leaders, there was no possibility that we could engage and inform the eight countries that will join us tomorrow, so I think your reporting will be a very important indication of what this is all about and they will be prepared to engage tomorrow.
I can say one thing for sure: given the four preparatory meetings that led to this Major Economies Leaders' Meeting tomorrow, the issues that the MEM leaders will discuss have been very well identified and presented. I understand that the leaders who will come to MEM - those outside of the G8 - have been studying very hard the issue of climate change if they had not done so before. But because they are going to talk directly with the global leaders, and in fact the G8 has been discussing climate change for some time now, those who are not G8 members really will becoming to discuss on their own for the first time and of course you can imagine they don't want to be taken by surprise nor do they want to be seen as not fully versed with the topic. Therefore, I understand from various sources of contact that I have with my MEM colleagues at my level that there has been a lot of serious work preparing the leaders for tomorrow's meeting. So, given that, it is my expectation that we will have a very engaging fruitful discussion with substance. Of course it remains to be seen whether we can come out with a kind of consensus or not. The issue, as I must repeat, is not simple; it is a very complicated issue that needs very careful attention in addressing but the minimum that we need is the commitment and engagement by the leaders themselves. Their participation tomorrow will tell us that indeed the leaders are personally committed in addressing this issue.
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