Big emerging countries urged rich countries yesterday to set ambitious mid-term targets for reducing greenhouse gases, as both sides stressed the need for funds to help developing countries limit their emissions.
Ministers and representatives from the G8 advanced countries and major emerging countries are gathered in western Japan to try to build momentum for UN-led climate change talks, a key topic for a July leaders’ summit.
At least one delegate, though, was pessimistic over prospects for any breakthrough in time for the July 7 to July 9 summit in Hokkaido, Japan, where G8 leaders will be joined by big emerging economies, such as China, for climate change talks.
“I think it is difficult. We have not enough time,” Mexican Environment Minister Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada told reporters. “But climate change is not waiting for any of us.”
G8 leaders agreed last year in Germany to consider seriously a goal to halve emissions by 2050, a proposal favored by Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Japan and Canada.
About 190 countries have agreed to negotiate by the end of next year a successor treaty to the Kyoto Protocol, which binds 37 developed counties to cut emissions by an average of 5 percent below 1990 levels between this year and 2012.
But wide gaps exist within the G8 and between rich and poorer nations over how to share the burden for fighting climate change, blamed for droughts, rising seas and more intense storms.
Developing countries are putting priority on growth and balking at targets, while complaining that the US, which together with China is a top emitter, is not doing enough.
Indonesia’s deputy environment minister, Masnellyarti Hilman, told reporters that G8 countries needed to set their own mid-term targets before asking developing countries to make commitments.
“First, they should do a mid-term target,” she said. “Developed countries should take the lead and give their commitment to give transfer of technology, finances and capacity building to developing countries.”
The EU has said the bloc aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels, but the US says only that it will halt the growth of its emissions by 2025 and expectations are low for bold moves until a new president takes office in January.
Japan, seeking to show leadership as G8 summit host, urged its rich country colleagues to set bold national targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by well over 50 percent by 2050.
Its environment minister called for wider support for a “sectoral” approach, in which each industry would be judged separately on eco-friendliness.
Tokyo believes that when it comes to setting specific goals, this would be more acceptable to developing countries and those reluctant to have top-down greenhouse gas reduction targets.
“Developing methodologies to set fair targets is an important component to attaining long-term, sustained emission reductions,” Japanese Environment Minister Ichiro Kamoshita said in his keynote speech.