In the side event “Co-Benefits of climate change and sustainable development in developing countries” hosted by Japan, I learned a bit about the steps the Japanese government have and are still undergoing to assist developing countries in combating climate change. While most of the presentation put me to sleep because there was a lot of math and technical talk (which I was not expecting), and some difficulty understanding with their accents, but I did pull a few usual points.
First, the Japanese government has gone ahead of the COP in implementing CDM (clean development mechanisms) in developing countries. They have supported these countries will massive financial and technical support. Actions like this are ones I hope to see other rich countries contributing to very soon.
The part I enjoyed the most was the input from a representative from Uganda, where the Japanese have a program with CDM. He and his country are very thankful to the Japanese for the help they are providing because they are giving the developing world socio-economical benefits through CDM.
He made a very important point during his time speaking, saying that the least developed countries have weak private sectors, and implementing the mechanism in public sectors (such an electricity and water) is where the opportunity lies for high levels of socio-economic benefits in his country and others in similar states.
Without actions similar to Japans it will be very difficult for the least developed countries to participate with CDM since they require very intensive and knowledgeable actions, and it is simply not possible for the least developed countries to have the same number of CDM as developed countries since they cannot access the opportunity alone.
There are many fissures amongst the negotiating positions of the 190-odd countries involved in hashing out a post-Kyoto treaty to decrease global carbon emissions. But one of the more significant has been the differences amongst developed countries. The European Union has advocated for strong emissions reductions while the US has been less enthusiastic. Countries such as Japan, Australia, and Canada have been in the middle, depending on which party was in party at a particular time.
After the 2007 Australian election, one of the first international gestures of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s new government was to sign on to the Kyoto Protocol at the COP-13 meeting in Bali, helping to pave the way for the Bali Road Map.
Could something similar happen with the new Japanese government of Yukio Hatoyama? The DPJ campaigned on a climate platform that calls for a 25% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels, placing them squarely in line with European targets.
Although in the past, the DPJ had called for instituting a carbon tax, during this election they dropped the demand and said that they would “consider” the idea.
It will be interesting to see how Hatoyama acts in the next few weeks on the climate issue. He will be attending a UN summit on climate change in New York sponsored by Ban Ki Moon next month which will be his first appearance on the major global stage. Many will expect him to be bold–particularly on emissions targets–since last month he met with Ban Ki Moon and unequivocally endorsed the 25% reduction.
On the other hand, the DJP election was less of an endorsement of the party’s policies as much as it was a rejection of the Liberal Party and their perceived mishandling of the economy. Because of this, it is probably not realistic to expect radical domestic policy shifts on climate. The DJP coalition has a variety of viewpoints and Japanese industry is already expressing concern about the 25% target.
Nevertheless, having Japan step away from the US position on climate is more promising for a Copenhagen agreement than would have otherwise been the case.
Photo of Yukio Hatoyama campaign poster: JanneM
UN-sponsored climate change talks began on Monday in Bonn. The negotiations will last two weeks and represent a step on the path towards a final successor to the Kyoto agreement scheduled to be completed by December.
While the negotiations are underway many NGOs are highlighting the domestic positions of various countries. Yesterday, the Climate Action Network held a press conference to discuss the impending decision on levels of greenhouse gas emission reductions in Japan.