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Cancun: Japan opposes extension of Kyoto Protocol

By Makereta Komai, Climate Pasifika Media Team in Cancun, Mexico

01 DECEMBER 2010, CANCUN, MEXICO --- Japan says it will oppose any extension to the Kyoto Protocol (KP), the only legally binding global agreement on climate change.

And its chief negotiator here in Cancun, the vice minister for global environment affairs, Hideki Minamikawa confirmed to the international media that ‘continuing with the second commitment period does not make any sense.’

Instead, Japan supports a new international framework with the participation of all major emitters based on the Copenhagen Accord.

According to Tokyo’s calculations, the current Kyoto Protocol covers only a small part of developed countries, representing 27 percent of the global carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion.

“That is why Japan is aiming at an early adoption of a new single legally binding instrument that is fair and effective, said Minamikawa.

He brushed aside media claims that Japan shocked the Cancun negotiations with its decision not to support a second commitment period for the Protocol.

“This is not new. The position has been clearly decided by the Ministerial meeting president by our Prime Minister.

Minister Miniamikawa said his country has not abandoned the Kyoto Protocol as it one of the Parties to the agreement adopted in1997.

One of his negotiators, Jun Arima said, “KP’s coverage is very limited. Rather than jumping to another legally binding agreement, Parties should consider jumping to one that is more effective, referring to the Copenhagen Accord.”

Here in Cancun, Japan will support a framework that is well balanced and comprehensive, a similar position adopted by the United States at the current negotiations.

The United States is not a party to the Kyoto Protocol. When its chief negotiator, Dr Jonathan Pershing was pressed for a comment on Japan’s position, Dr Pershing said the United States will not comment on a sovereign decision of a Party and will respect whatever decision it takes.

A major feature of the Kyoto Protocol is that it sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions .These amount to an average of five per cent against 1990 levels over the five-year period 2008-2012.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, the first commitment period comes to an end in 2012.

Green groups reacted immediately after Japan hinted Monday night that it does not want to continue with a second commitment period.

Friends of the Earth said Japan had thrown down an obstacle at Cancun, where the future of the Protocol is part of a complex, interlinked haggle, by speaking so bluntly.

"With this position, Japan isolates itself from the rest of the world. Even worse, this step undermines the ongoing talks and is a serious threat to the progress needed here in Cancun," said Yuri Onodera of Friends of the Earth Japan.

Chirstian Aid echoed similar opposition.

"Japan's hard line position on the Kyoto Protocol puts the global climate architecture at risk. This position violates Japan's legally binding commitment, turns its backon science, and disrespects the people most vulnerable to climate change. It's shocking that at a time when the whole world is seeking to strengthen the climate regime, Japan wants to kill the treaty that bears its name, said Mohamed Adow", Senior Climate Change Advisor, Christian Aid.


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