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Tuesday, 10 April, 2001, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
EU woos Japan on climate pact
Chimneys in Bangladesh
The US says developing countries must cut emissions
By environment correspondent Roger Harrabin

The European Union mission to save the Kyoto climate protocol from being scrapped by the Americans is in Japan on the most challenging leg of the journey.

The idea is that if Europe can enlist the support of the Japanese, the rest of the developed world will be able to implement the treaty anyway - leaving the US as the world's biggest polluter isolated on the issue.

The EU mission has been highly successful so far.

It has got the support of China and the developing countries of the G77. Also, crucially, Russia.

Balancing act

But to put diplomatic pressure on Washington, they need the support of the Japanese.

Chinese car workers
China has already given its backing
And the Japanese haven't yet made up their minds if they're ready to step out of the wing of US foreign policy that has sheltered them for so long.

Kiniko Hirata, a member of the climate pressure group Kiko Alliance, says relations with Washington are a priority for Tokyo.

"Japan never thinks about the negotiations without the United States and their highest priority was to include United States.

"So at this point it is very difficult to see they will go ahead without the United States."

At the moment the Japanese are focussed on keeping Washington on board with the Kyoto protocol.

Their foreign minister told the EU delegation that in a recent bi-lateral meeting the Americans did seem to be adopting a more conciliatory stance.

US conditions

But so far the Americans have been sticking to a position that G77 countries with pollution per person less than a tenth of the US must also agree formal cuts in the gases thought to be changing the climate.

Top CO2 polluters
US
China
Russia
Japan
India
Germany
And that is seen as morally unacceptable to all but a handful of nations.

Already some Japanese parliamentarians are preparing a resolution in the Diet for Japan to implement the protocol without the US if necessary.

And with elections in Tokyo scheduled for July it is too early to say if Japan will be prepared to stand with the rest of the world and call President Bush's bluff on climate policy.

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See also:

07 Apr 01 | Americas
EU ready to renegotiate Kyoto
31 Mar 01 | Europe
Europe backs Kyoto accord
06 Apr 01 | Americas
EU seeks Moscow backing on climate
03 Apr 01 | Americas
EU defends Kyoto accord
30 Mar 01 | Americas
Kyoto: Why did the US pull out?
29 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
US facing climate isolation
28 Mar 01 | Sci/Tech
Anger as US abandons Kyoto
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