Page last updated at 13:34 GMT, Wednesday, 23 April 2008 14:34 UK

Summit calls for climate targets

By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Shinkansen "bullet" train. Image: AP
Japan uses energy more efficiently than many other developed countries

European and Japanese leaders at their annual summit in Tokyo have called for "ambitious and binding" targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Their statement says curbing climate change will need mobilisation of "unprecedented investments and finance" mainly from the private sector.

It accepts that a Japanese plan to explore separate targets for different types of industry is "useful".

Leaders hope to take their arguments forward into the July G8 meeting.

Endorsing last year's landmark assessment from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the statement says that "global emissions of greenhouse gases need to peak in the next 10 to 15 years", and to fall swiftly after that.

"Japan and the EU stress that a highly ambitious and binding international approach is required to deal with the scale and urgency of the climate change challenge of promoting a low carbon, high growth global economy," it says.

The US says it will only accept caps if India accepts caps; where is the logic in this?
Shivshankar Menon
Indian Foreign Secretary

The two parties "reaffirm their willingness" to play "leading roles" in addressing climate change.

Japan's Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa (in his capacity as current European Council President) agreed that industrialised nations would need to cut emissions by between 25% and 40% compared to 1990 levels by 2020.

Europe is pushing for a global deal to take effect when the current Kyoto Protocol targets expire in 2012, and has pledged to cut its own emissions by 20% by 2020, and by 30% if the other industrialised countries follow suit.

Cutting losses

Japan, with US approval, has been pushing a plan to set specific targets for various industrial sectors.

It believes this could be a more efficient way to cut emissions, while also reducing the possibility that industries that are hit hard will migrate to developing countries where emissions are unrestricted.

The idea is viewed with suspicion by some environmentalists, who believe it could allow governments to avoid restricting emissions from their favoured industries.

Now, the EU has given some limited backing.

"I believe there was an understanding shown from the EU towards our approach, which will be effective in ensuring fairness in setting national targets," Mr Fukuda told reporters after the meeting.

Hokkaido G8 meeting logo. Image: AFP/Getty
The various parties are looking for fertile ground at the G8 summit

The Bush administration contends it is only fair that major developing countries should accept obligations to reduce emissions as part of some future global deal.

The EU/Japan document endorses this idea, stating: "Emerging economies should make appropriate contributions according to their responsibilities and respective capabilities".

Developing countries are looking for a post-Kyoto deal that will bring funds to help them prepare for climate-related impacts such as droughts, floods and changed conditions for growing crops.

The Tokyo summit concluded that significant, "unprecedented" sums would be needed both to fund this adaptation work and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But governments would not pay directly, leaders agreed; instead, "The bulk... will have to come from the private sector and through market-based instruments".

Gulf of understanding

The aims and priorities agreed in Tokyo will feed into the G8 summit taking place in the Japanese island of Hokkaido on 7-9 July.

So will the outcomes of other bilateral and multilateral processes on climate change, notably the "major economies" (or "big emitters") group established by President Bush.

The communique from Tokyo indicates that the various industrialised countries are finding some common ground.

Notably, Japan's promotion of a sectoral approach has received a sympathetic hearing.

All the various political initiatives, including the G8 process itself, will then be taken forward into the UN climate convention negotiations. Delegates at last year's meeting in Bali agreed that a new deal should be concluded in two years' time.

But there is still a yawning gulf between the developed and the developing world.

While Mr Fukuda, Mr Barroso and Mr Jansa were formulating their text in Tokyo, India's Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon was asking reporters: "The US says it will only accept caps if India accepts caps; where is the logic in this?

"They (developed nations) are the ones who created this mess. They are the ones who today produce most of the greenhouse gases and have not implemented what they said they will do (at the 1997 UN climate summit) in Kyoto."

Many developing states are unhappy about the prospect of being asked to curb their emissions which on a per-capita basis remain far below those of the developed world.

The challenge for industrialised nations such as Japan and the EU states is to find a way to bridge this gap, and provide adequate funds for adaptation, well before the 2009 deadline for securing a new global deal.

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