Koizumi Cabinet E-mail Magazine No. 163 (November 11, 2004)
[Lion Heart -- Message from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi]
Entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol
With Russia's decision on November 4 to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, a framework for the world to cooperate in efforts to prevent global warming, it will enter into force as early as next February.
The Kyoto Protocol is an important international commitment adopted seven years ago, in 1997, at an international conference on global warming prevention held in Kyoto.
The average temperature around the globe has steadily increased by 0.4 to 0.8 degrees over the past century with the increase being particularly sharp over the past 50 years. Human activities are recognized to be the major cause for this phenomenon.
If we do not put an end to this trend, the Antarctic icecaps will melt, causing sea levels to rise. As such, some of the low-lying island countries in the Pacific Ocean are in danger of being submerged.
It is said that the cause of global warming is "greenhouse gases" such as carbon dioxide and methane that envelop the Earth, trapping heat within the atmosphere like in a greenhouse. To counter this effect, the Kyoto Protocol commits the developed countries to achieving a reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases from 2008 to 2012.
Japan ratified the Kyoto Protocol in June 2002. However, the Protocol can only enter into force on the condition that it is ratified by over 55 countries and that the total carbon dioxide emission of the ratifying developed countries accounts for more than 55 percent of the total emission of all the developed countries.
Recognizing the significance of the Kyoto Protocol, which serves to protect our environment, I have called for its early entry into force at international conferences and on numerous occasions to President Putin of Russia and other leaders of the world. With Russia's ratification decision, we are now finally able to see its entry into force.
On the other hand, countries such as the United States that account for a substantial amount of greenhouse gas emissions are not participating in the Protocol, and developing countries such as China and India are currently exempted from reduction obligations. Thus, we should formulate a mechanism for the prevention of global warming together with these countries.
Japan obliged itself to reduce its level of greenhouse gas emissions by 6 percent from 1990 levels. However, figures for 2002 show that emissions are still 7.6 percent up from 1990. As a result, Japan is now faced with the task of reducing its emissions by 13.6 percent by the target year.
I realize that for Japan to achieve its reduction commitment is no easy task, but we must strive to realize our commitment without fail by making the most of the power of science and technology and, above all, with the understanding and cooperation of the people of Japan.
There are views that environmental protection disrupts economic development. That view, however, is one which I do not share.
Thirty years ago, when Japan was pushing ahead in a period of high-speed growth, pollution became a very serious problem. In those days it was thought that giving consideration to environmental protection would create large costs. Now, however, people are buying environmentally friendly products, even if they are a little more expensive.
The environment and the economy can be successfully supported together. The key to achieving both is the power of science and technology.
At the very same conference hall where the Kyoto Protocol was finalized, an international conference on science and technology in society will be held on Sunday, November 14. I will give a speech at this conference, and I will be pressing upon the leaders from all sectors of society my belief that "environmental protection and economic development are mutually achievable and sustainable."
The trees along the streets around my office are gradually changing color. I will endeavor in my efforts to preserve the clean water, pure air, safe food and beautiful nature, and to realize a balance between environmental protection and economic development.
* The title of this column "Lion Heart" is a reference to the Prime Minister's lion-like hairstyle and his unbending determination to advance structural reform.
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