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Tokyo under pressure for refusing to extend Kyoto protocol

Global Times

Delegates at the United Nations climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, slammed Japan Thursdays it denied any chances of agreeing to extend the Kyoto Protocol. This unexpected refusal has cast a pall over the talks and threatens to derail any chance of progress.

Su Wei, chief Chinese negotiator in Cancun and head of the Climate Change Department of China's National Development and Reform Commission, told reporters that the Kyoto Protocol is the basic framework from which global warming can be tackled. He stated that Japan's refusal to extend it would have a negative impact on the conference's outcome.

"It is one of the crucial issues that govern the success of the Cancun conference," he said.

"There will be no successful outcome for Cancun" if Japan sticks to its guns, said Yemen's Abdulla Al-saidi, the chair of the Group of 77 and China, the main body of developing nations at the two-week talks that kicked off Monday.

Hideki Minamikawa, Japan's Vice minister for global environmental affairs revealed at a news conference late Wednesday that extending Kyoto "does not make sense," arguing that countries following the Kyoto Protocol only account for about 27% of global CO2 emissions.

Japan's stance, the strongest yet taken against Kyoto by one of the world's leading emitters, threatens to kill off any chance of a legally binding treaty being struck this year. This would come as a blow after the 2009 talks in Copenhagen ended in disarray.

The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Japan in 1992 by almost 40 developed countries, which committed themselves to cut emissions by at least 5.2% below 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. Crucially, the U.S. has repeatedly refused to ratify the treaty.

Developing nations are pushing for a second commitment period to be added to the protocol, aiming for deeper cuts of at least 40% by 2020.

Research done by Tsinghua University suggests that developed countries, home to 23.6% of the world population, have contributed 79% of the aggregated carbon emissions since the industrial revolution.

However, a recent study carried out by the US Energy Department's Oak Ridge National Lab revealed that, since 1990, the share of carbon emissions from developed countries has fallen from 65% to 43%. In that time, developing countries have more than doubled their emissions, said the study.

Yang Ailun, climate and energy campaign manager of Greenpeace China, told the Global Times from Cancun that Japan's position has not really changed, but that such a negative stance so early on will significantly impact the negotiation environment.

She noted that Japan's tough stance comes directly from pressure received by domestic industrial groups, which have powerful sway in Japan.

Yang added that, with countries such as the U.S. opting out of the Kyoto Protocol, Japan can afford to stay on the defensive.

Japan's position has drawn fire from both environmental groups and developing countries. They argue that developed countries have been the principal culprits in terms of carbon emissions since the industrial revolution, and are now seeking to shirk their responsibility in the matter.

Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, said Japan's attitude could represent that of other developed countries.

"In its developing phase, which Japan has also experienced, it is hard for China to commit to a too-high target of carbon emission reduction, unless the country halts its economic development," he said. He said the problem could be solved only when developed countries decide to aid the de-veloping world instead of constrain it.

"We can't say whether the Cancun Climate Conference will represent a step back from Copenhagen. But there is limited possibility that major progress can be made," Lin said.

Ahead of the conference, delegates and environmental groups had believed it would be possible to make breakthroughs on specific topics, laying a foundation for future negotiations.

Bi Xinxin, program officer for climate change in China for Oxfam Hong Kong, told the Global Times that the negotiations will not stop simply because some countries act irresponsibly.

"A smaller package of measures, including adaptation and green funds to channel aid to poorer countries or to reduce emissions due to deforestation, is likely to be passed," he said.

El contenido de las noticias que se presentan en esta sección es responsabilidad directa de las agencias emisoras de noticias y no necesariamente reflejan la posición del Gobierno de México en este u otros temas relacionados.


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