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Japan repeats opposition to new reduction phase under climate pact.

CANCUN, Mexico, Dec. 9 Kyodo

Japan repeated its opposition on Thursday to setting new commitments for greenhouse gas emission cuts under the Kyoto Protocol, leaving the possibility of progress on the matter at the ongoing U.N. conference in Mexico unclear.

''Japan will not associate itself with setting the second commitment period'' after the current five-year commitment period ends in 2012, Environment Minister Ryu Matsumoto said in his address to the meeting one day before its scheduled end.

Whether to amend the 1997 pact to legally bind developed countries to continue to cut greenhouse gas emissions beyond 2012 has been a major sticking point at the conference, which is aimed at working out post-2012 steps to fight global warming.

Developing countries are calling for a new commitment period to oblige developed countries to make deeper cuts. But some countries, particularly Japan, have opposed the calls, saying China and the United States, the world's two biggest carbon dioxide emitters, must also be bound by the pact. The United States has refused to ratify it.

Matsumoto, who is in the Caribbean resort of Cancun for the conference's ministerial-level segment, noted the point on Thursday.

''The protocol covers only 27 percent of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions. Would you think that it truly addresses the global risks caused by climate change, such as a rise in sea levels?'' he said.

''Japan would express our serious concern that setting the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol rather results in fixing a framework with limited participation and will sap the momentum for constructing an effective legal framework with the participation of all major economies,'' he added.

The minister sought to reassure those skeptical of Japan's stance, saying Tokyo will maintain the protocol's ''spirit'' and that it will exert leadership in boosting emission reduction efforts beyond 2012.

''The Kyoto Protocol does exist after 2012, and the role of the Kyoto Protocol will continue to be discussed even after Cancun,'' he said.

At the same plenary session, President Evo Morales of Bolivia, which opposed a deal at last year's U.N. climate conference in Copenhagen together with some other developing countries, made strong calls for a new commitment period under the current pact.

''If we throw the Kyoto Protocol into a garbage can from Cancun, then we will be responsible for economi-cide, eco-cide -- therefore, genocide -- because we are attacking all of mankind,'' he said.

Meanwhile, Todd Stern, the chief U.S. negotiator, served notice to China, which has resisted calls for tight rules for verifying reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, saying, ''We must clearly lay out the elements of transparency...that will provide us confidence that we are all carrying through on our undertakings.''

As the 16th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP16, approaches its scheduled end on Friday, its president, Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa, has begun informal consultative meetings with delegates to reach a compromise.

But it remains unclear whether the nearly 200 parties can strike a deal, with countries still divided over the issues, including the future of the Kyoto Protocol, which has pitted Japan against developing countries.
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Publication:Japan Policy & Politics
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Dec 13, 2010
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