The Second Press Conference, 9 July 2008
- G8 Summit Meeting on the Heiligendamm Process
- Questions concerning the discussion on emissions reductions targets
- Questions concerning the views of the G5 regarding emissions reductions
- Questions concerning the negotiations on emissions reductions targets
- Question concerning the Major Economies Meeting
Press Secretary Kazuo Kodama: Thank you and good afternoon to you all. In this briefing I will share with you what has transpired in this morning's MEM (Major Economies Meeting) Leaders' Meeting on Energy, Security and Climate Change - this is the formal title of this meeting. For your reference, we have already distributed to you three handouts. One is the final declaration of this meeting itself which was unanimously adopted by the MEM leaders this morning. Another one is the fact sheet on the climate change program loan which was recently signed between the Japanese Government and the Indonesian Government; I will touch on this briefly later. And then the third one is just a fact sheet on Prime Minister Fukuda's proposal on climate change which is named the "Fukuda Vision." I will also touch on this briefly later.
The meeting lasted for about one hour and 50 minutes and Prime Minister Fukuda chaired the meeting. The discussion went as follows. The Prime Minister led the discussion at the outset and then opened the floor to all the participants to share their respective views on this very important issue of climate change. Then Prime Minister Fukuda wrapped up the meeting and he proposed the adoption of the draft declaration which was duly adopted by consensus and the end product is what you have with you now.
At the beginning the Prime Minister mentioned that he would like to focus the discussion on climate change alone in which the major issues will be the long-term goal, the mid-term goal, financial resources, technology and forestry - these are the major items to be discussed when the leaders address the issue of climate change. Then he invited the participants to share their respective views. To start with, the Prime Minister asked President Bush because, as you may know, MEM was originally proposed by President Bush himself in September last year. President Bush briefly shared his view that he was grateful to see that this MEM meeting is now being convened here on the sidelines of the G8 Toyako Hokkaido Summit and this is a very meaningful place and opportunity to discuss climate change and he very much looked forward to constructive discussions. The following is a summation of the leaders' interventions which can be summed up in three points.
Number one, the leaders - all of them I think - expressed their views on the importance of the comprehensive, strategic approach to deal with the issue of climate change, and they shared their views on this issue from a most comprehensive manner. Secondly, they shared their respective views on how to proceed from here up to the end of 2009, the deadline by which the participating countries or this UN conference is expected to agree on a post-Kyoto Protocol framework. Thirdly, they expressed their views on what they are going to do with the MEM process.
First, on the comprehensive approach to this issue, according to our senior official who has been fully engaged in this issue and represented the Japanese Government and also monitored this meeting, gave his view that listening to the exchange of views by all the participants this morning, the discussions have been in line with the discussions which were already developed in the previous MEM meetings. However, two points can be made on this meeting.
Number one, it is primarily because this is the meeting of the leaders themselves, the top most political leaders of their own countries, therefore they are fully aware of the needs and also the policy measures which need to be employed in addressing this issue in their own country. Then many leaders mentioned that in order to address this issue, one of the fundamental principles is "common but differentiated responsibilities." In any case, almost all the leaders explained very clearly that they are all tackling the issue of climate change in a most serious manner, so we could feel that throughout this session, the leaders were as one in expressing their clear attitudes of cooperation in dealing with this challenge of global climate change.
The second point is when they explained the policies being implemented in their countries, mostly focused on the measures to improve energy efficiency and also measures to reduce CO2 emissions, indeed, quite a few leaders gave very detailed explanations on what they have been doing. This is very interesting evidence that on the issue of climate change, the leaders themselves had been taking the lead in addressing the issue of climate change in their respective countries. So all in all we feel that this meeting was very productive and meaningful.
In the meeting, the following points were made. One is that this is a global issue which requires therefore a global response. So on this goal there is a very clear consensus among the participants, be they G8 or non-G8 participants. Then the discussions touched on, in addressing the issue of climate change, how the principle of fairness should be designed and applied in dealing with this issue and various views were expressed. Some non-G8 leaders referred to the historical fact that for the last more than 200 years it was the developed economies who have accumulated the existing greenhouse gases (GHG). And on this point, no leader expressed a view denying this understanding. There is also a view that developed countries should take a lead in tackling the issue, and again on this, there seems to be a consensus amongst the participants.
Now, in establishing the principle of fairness, three points were raised. One is that the principle should be based on the emissions or the past emissions record. Two, per capita emissions may be a yardstick. Three, industry-wide energy efficiency can be a yardstick to decide the principle of fairness. In any case, there seems to be a consensus that in order to address the principle of fairness, all these points need to be taken into account to then take a comprehensive look at these elements; that may be a way forward. That seemed to be a common understanding amongst the leaders.
On the issue of the long-term goal which was indeed embraced by the G8 leaders yesterday, and in that G8 Leaders' Declaration the message is such that the G8 leaders seek to share with all parties to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) the goal of achieving a 50% reduction of global emissions by 2050, and so on. On this, a couple of leaders from the non-G8 side responded as follows. They expressed their appreciation of the G8 leaders' agreement on this long-term goal saying that this agreement on the part of the G8 leaders will surely contribute to the forthcoming negotiation at the UN leading up to COP15 (Conference of the Parties) in Denmark in December 2009.
On the other hand, other leaders from the non-G8 side pointed out that still developed economies including the G8 should formulate the mid-term target.
Let me just introduce to you what the Korean President Mr. Lee Myung-bak mentioned. He mentioned that the Prime Minister's "Fukuda Vision" showed a very wise direction in tackling the issue and in his view, it is a very good vision and he gave it very high marks. Japan has particularly been a leader in the development of energy-saving technologies and promoting that sort of technology worldwide. Now, with this vision, Japan has committed to move forward to a low-carbon society and that vision can be a guiding principle to be followed by other countries. I just draw your attention to this handout which explains the essence of the Fukuda Vision.
To be precise, amongst the non-G8 members in this MEM meeting, three leaders expressed their support and their agreement to joining this long-term goal which was agreed upon by the G8 leaders. They are Indonesia, the Republic of Korea and Australia. So these three leaders, this morning, embraced the long-term goal which was agreed upon by the G8 leaders yesterday.
Then let me just also share with you the explanation given by a few leaders on their own measures in addressing the issue of climate change, namely the ROK's efforts. President Lee Myung-bak mentioned that the ROK is planning to set up what he calls the East Asian Climate Partnership in which the ROK will take the lead to promote the policy consultation and technological cooperation and by so doing, to help the countries in the region who are expected to increase GHG emissions. He also mentioned that the ROK would like to play the role of a bridge between the developed and developing economies.
The second intervention on these measures was made by the Mexican President. He said that the Mexican Government has established what he called the Green Fund. He also distributed an explanatory note for the reference of the leaders present. This fund, in his view, would be very useful to promote a fully-participatory sort of scheme in which the financial resources would be available to those who really need to introduce energy-efficient technologies, GHG reducing technologies and so on.
Now, just a few debating points. From the G8 leaders, the following point was made which is this: no one in the G8 is asking the developing economies to sacrifice their growth by agreeing to introduce emissions-reducing technologies. We are fully aware of the need to ensure the compatibility of both growth and GHG reduction; this is a message given by the G8 leaders to the non-G8 participants this morning. One of the European leaders mentioned over the last couple of years, Europe has been successful in maintaining economic growth while reducing the amount of CO2 emissions. This is achievable; that was the message given by the G8.
From the non-G8 members, the following interventions were made. One leader mentioned that their country is still a developing country and there are many people in poverty. They all need basic support for health and sanitation, and basic human needs support and so on. Therefore, in view of such a situation, we cannot accept the introduction of measures which may hinder our economic growth. He said if they are going to accept measures to reduce GHG emissions, such technology must be linked to sustainable economic growth. Again, the compatibility of growth and GHG reduction must be maintained. And for that purpose, his country very much hopes for the support of developed countries in the area of both financial assistance as well as the technological assistance.
Indonesian President Yudhoyono introduced the very successful cooperation between Indonesia and Australia - this is bilateral cooperation focusing on preserving the forestry resources. President Yudhoyono mentioned that this can be yet another model for both developed and developing countries in pursing collaboration to advance the introduction of green technology.
After those discussions, the Prime Minister sought the views of the participants on the importance of this forum, i.e. the MEM process. Prime Minister Fukuda mentioned that in his view there seems to be a consensus that this MEM process will have a role to play therefore he proposed the continuation of this process. And in Japan's view, MEM's primary role is to push UN-based negotiations moving forward and we think MEM will be very useful in that regard. In response there was consensus and support for his proposal, so the MEM Leaders' Meeting will continue.
Taking that decision, the Italian Prime Minister commented as follows. Like the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit this year, I would like to propose that when I host the next G8 Summit in Italy, I would like to convene the second MEM Leaders' Meeting. Again that proposal was greeted with clapping hands so there was unanimous agreement amongst the members of this meeting.
In addition to those leaders, the meeting was also attended by the heads of the following international organizations: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, World Bank President Robert Zoellick, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria, as well as IEA Secretary-General Nobuo Tanaka; they were all present. They also made their own contribution. The UN Secretary-General mentioned briefly that he believes the sectoral approach proposed by Prime Minister Fukuda is a very useful contribution made by Japan. And Mr. Zoellick mentioned that the World Bank has now established a fund to finance the technological transfer to promote green technology and energy saving technology and he is determined to start operation of this fund at the earliest possible date.
Finally, let me draw your attention to the major salient points in this declaration. Of course it is up to you to decide, but at least from the Chair's position, I would just like to make a few observations. As far as the long-term target is concerned, paragraph 4 is the crucial paragraph. You may wonder what the relationship is between the following two sentences. The first sentence says, "We support a shared vision for long-term cooperative action, including a long-term global goal for emission reductions." You may believe then this sentence means that the MEM meeting also embraced a 50-50 target, but that is not the case. I am told this sentence is really identical to the one which was adopted at the Bali Conference, so it doesn't really mean that this sentence embraces the 50-50 long-term goal.
Then, another important sentence is somewhere in the middle of this paragraph. "We urge that serious consideration be given in particular to ambitious IPCC scenarios." This again looks very ambiguous indeed but this is the wording agreed upon amongst the MEM members as of today. Just for your information, these ambitious IPCC scenarios comprise three scenarios, you can check it if you check the IPCC Report, but all of them are ambitious enough to include this 50-50 target or even more ambitious reduction targets. But the bottom line is that serious consideration be given.
Then the mid-term goal-related paragraph is paragraph 5. Paragraph 6 emphasizes the importance of forestry. Paragraph 7 is on adaptation. Paragraph 8 is on technology and paragraph 9 is on financial resources mobilization. Paragraph 10 is early measures to be implemented, including - I just want to draw your attention to the first dot - there is a reference on the role of cooperative sectoral approaches and sector-specific actions consistent with the convention, so this is a reference to the sectoral approach promoted originally by the Japanese Government.
I will stop here and if you have any questions I would be happy to answer your questions.
Q: You said that three non-G8 nations expressed support for the G8 targets. Does that mean that the remainder of the non-G8 members did not support the G8 targets and if so did they express any views on the more ambitious targets that the G8 ought to adopt?
Also, paragraph 6 of this declaration says "nationally-appropriate mitigation actions." That seems to leave every country open to be free to decide its own target. Is that what it is meant to imply? That is the second question.
Mr. Kodama: On your first question, I am told that during the whole session, no one from the non-G8 side mentioned that they would like to see a more ambitious mid-term reduction goal, something like 80% to 90% reduction on the part of the G8 members; there was no such reference made. That is number one.
And then on the first part of your question, I just repeat that Australia, the ROK and Indonesia embraced the long-term target. The other non-G8 participants did not say so.
On paragraph 6, what was your question?
Q: At the top of page 3, it says the economies will "pursue nationally-appropriate mitigation targets." That seems to leave them totally free to decide their own targets or maybe I am misinterpreting it?
Mr. Kodama: I would just comment that on page 2, the bottom part of page 2, I quote, "In this regard the developed major economies will implement, consistent with international obligations, economy-wide mid-term goals." This is in reference to what we call the national quantified reduction targets. As well as, "take corresponding actions in order to achieve absolute emission reductions." This in a way is an expression on the part of the developed countries; a common but differentiated principle. At the same time as you said, developing major economies will pursue nationally-appropriate mitigation actions. We should just take it as it stands; nothing more, nothing less.
Q: I think you just mentioned that there were no demands from non-G8 nations for more ambitious goals. Is it correct that even though the G5 made this announcement demanding extremely tough reductions, there was no discussion of this?
Mr. Kodama: During the two-hour long session, I was just told that nobody referred to that sort of demand. This is just my own personal interpretation. In any case, those BRICs leaders met themselves yesterday in Sapporo. At the end of the day they issued their own Joint Statement in which they expressed their view vis-à-vis the developed countries' obligation. They may think that their views are already registered in the form of the very clear-cut declaration so there was no need to repeat it this morning; I don't know. But in any case, no reference was made.
Q: Was there any reaction back from yesterday...
Mr. Kodama: From the morning session, no reaction as such.
Q: You mentioned in point 4 that, "We support a shared vision for long-term cooperative action." This text is essentially the same as the Bali Conference Declaration. Does it mean that there has been no progress made since Bali? Or if your view is different can you please clarify what the progress is according to your view or according to the view of the leaders.
Mr. Kodama: I am not really an expert but I have been following this event. I could respond to you that one of the biggest progresses to date is yesterday's embracing by G8 leaders of the long-term goal amongst themselves. And then they went on to seek all of the UN members to embrace this same long-term goal. That is a big change; it wasn't there in December last year. And also, again I mentioned that three leaders of the emerging economies, of course Australia is a developed country, so Australia plus two emerging economies - Indonesia and the Republic of Korea - committed themselves to accept this target. I think we can say that significant progress is being made.
Q: Yesterday's statement by the G8 said that it would invite all other major emitters, probably thinking primarily about China and India, to share their vision of a global reduction of 50%. While today's statement clearly shows that at least five of the other big emitters, including China and India don't share that vision. So isn't the summary after the G8 Summit that the international situation is still at a standoff between the US on one side, and China and India on the other, and that no real progress has been made?
Mr. Kodama: I don't want to mislead you in any way by expressing my rather personal response but I think I may be excused by saying this. Yesterday Ambassador Tsuruoka gave you a briefing on what transpired in the climate change session amongst the G8 leaders. I think he mentioned something like before this G8 Summit was convened there were many speculations whether or not Japan, as the G8 Chair, could convince US President Bush to embrace, I repeat to you the word embrace, the long-term target. On the other hand, the US Government has been consistently insisting that unless we ensure the full participation of all the major emitters, including India and China, the G8 leaders' agreement alone, embracing of this target, does not get us anywhere.
So, how do we bridge the gap? I think yesterday's outcome is a very positive one. I don't think there is a standoff as such as you described because yesterday's declaration is interesting. This declaration does not stop at a place where G8 leaders are just embracing this target; rather this declaration is more action-oriented, on the move, to try to reach out to non-G8 members, especially the major GHG emitters outside of the G8. That is why I think President Bush also agreed to join this agreement because this is not just a stationary telling ourselves that yes, the G8 now accepts and embraces this target; that is not enough. That is quite insufficient so we must show a move forward. Indeed, direction is clearly stated. I think this looks like a professional document because paragraph 23 doesn't mention major economies, but rather all parties to the UNFCCC; this is a more inclusive message. So all in all, the Japanese Government believes that yesterday, we made some progress and then today we have achieved the endorsement of three non-G8 players.
Q: If China and India and the other countries do not accept 50% by 2050, what do you have to work with?
Mr. Kodama: I don't have an answer. Certainly, our approach continues to be to give them, to show them, all kinds of positive incentives to be appreciated by them, meaning India and China, including this financial support and most advanced green technology and by so doing we hope that we will be able to convince these two major players to embrace this very important long-term target. All in all, in this meeting, as I mentioned earlier, I don't think there was any disagreement on the importance of the principle of a common but differentiated approach.
Q: Apart from Italy announcing it would host MEM next year, was there any talk by any of these members in the room of expanding the role of MEM into something greater or was everyone content to basically leave this as an appendage or a footnote to future G8 meetings?
Mr. Kodama: To the best of my knowledge, my answer is the latter. I don't think there was any discussion on the expanded function of the MEM as such. Rather as I mentioned earlier, this is the very first Leaders' Meeting of MEM and they agreed that this is useful and they believe that this can be used as a venue to assist the UN negotiations. Therefore, so far as the leaders appreciate the future role to be played by this process, I think they would like to sustain this process. Perhaps in between now and the next summit in Italy, a senior officials' meeting may be convened if they deem it necessary.
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