Da Asahi Shimbun del 29/11/2005
Originale su http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200511290146.html

Kyoto Protocol meeting

Delegates from around the world were Tuesday to hold in Montreal the first meeting of countries that have ratified the Kyoto Protocol, which came into force in February this year. Another meeting was to open at the same time--the 11th annual gathering under the 1992 U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, the foundation for the Kyoto treaty to fight global warming. The event should shift international efforts to curb greenhouse gases into higher gear.

Delegates at the meeting are expected to adopt rules about compliance mechanisms, such as how to calculate the amount of carbon dioxide forests absorb. Discussions will also focus on ways to help developing countries with their anti-warming efforts.

The central question in Montreal, however, is what will happen to the agreement after the end of its first commitment period, from 2008 to 2012, for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

One crucial issue related to this question is how developing countries, which are not bound by the treaty, should be incorporated into the Kyoto framework. Obviously, a separate set of emission limits should be imposed on developing countries that are major emitters, such as China and India.

New targets also need to be set for industrialized countries. Agreements on these issues should be worked out quickly.

If there is no second period for reducing greenhouse emissions, industrialized countries could lose the motivation to fulfill their commitments for the first period.

But there is no room for optimism as to whether the Montreal meeting will see constructive debate on the second commitment period.

The United States, the single largest source of greenhouse gases, has withdrawn from the treaty, saying it is seriously flawed because it fails to include targets and timetables for developing countries like China and India. The American delegation, which attends the meeting only as an observer, will probably oppose discussing the targets for the second period.

Meanwhile, China and India have refused to discuss any proposal to impose limits on their emissions, pointing out that the industrialized countries are not delivering on their promises to whittle down theirs.

The position Japan should adopt is very clear. It should fulfill its responsibility as the country that hosted the 1997 conference that produced the Kyoto Protocol by trying to persuade the United States and developing countries to join the pact.

Signs coming from the Japanese government, however, have not been very encouraging. When U.S. President George W. Bush visited Kyoto earlier this month, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said nothing about Washington's rejoining the Kyoto treaty.

There are wide disagreements within the government over the future of the Kyoto Protocol. While the Environment Ministry is arguing for the establishment of similar targets to prune greenhouse emissions for the second term, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is lukewarm at best about the idea of new binding targets.

The government should swiftly build a consensus among policy-makers in line with the Environment Ministry's position. It should then prod the signatory countries to hammer out the formula and timeline for debate on the issue.

The atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases continues to rise because about half of the global emissions remain in the air without being absorbed by forests or the sea. The consequences of this accumulation of heat-trapping gases are already beginning to show themselves in unusually hot summers and other extreme weather phenomena.

There is an urgent need to drastically reduce the amount of such gases being spewed into the air. That requires pushing the world further in the direction of emission cuts set by the Kyoto Protocol.

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