Positive Environment News

Japan Vows On Climate Bill, Biodiversity Goal

Date: 06-Oct-10
Country: JAPAN
Author: Chisa Fujioka

Japan's environment minister said on Tuesday he aimed to pass a climate bill soon and forge ahead with plans to launch an emissions trading scheme but gave few clues on how to win help from opposition parties in a divided parliament.

Environment Minister Ryu Matsumoto also said a U.N. meeting in Japan this month must agree on a global target to protect the diversity of plants and animals after failure to reach a goal set in 2002 of a "significant reduction" in losses by 2010.

Japan's climate bill, which backs the creation of an emissions trading scheme, was shelved earlier this year and faces an uncertain fate in a divided parliament, where opposition parties can block legislation in the upper house.

"We are aiming to pass the climate bill at an early date," Matsumoto, who took his post last month in a cabinet reshuffle, told Reuters in an interview.

"An emissions trading scheme is an important part of our mid- and long-term (emissions reduction) target and we will deepen our study into the design while eyeing submitting related bills to parliament next year."

Japan has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020 on condition a global climate deal is signed by all major emitters, including the United States and China.

The climate bill would make the target legally binding and set a one-year deadline for Japan to design a compulsory emissions trading system. Currently, it only has a voluntary market at the national level based on companies' pledged goals.

The bill will be presented in its current form to an extra parliament session running until December 3.

Matsumoto said the government would be flexible in debating the bill, adding there was scope for talks both with the main opposition Liberal Democrats, who want the bill watered down, and the third-largest party New Komeito, which favours a tougher stance.


Japan is also committed to take the lead on ironing out differences between rich and poor nations over a global target to preserve biological diversity that will be a focal point for an upcoming U.N. meeting in Nagoya, central Japan, Matsumoto said.

Experts say tension between the European Union and poor countries could undermine the talks from October 18-29 to set a new global goal to protect nature's riches that are vital to everything from clean air and water to medicine and food.

The world will fail to reach a goal set in 2002 for a significant reduction in biodiversity losses by 2010, the United Nations has said.

"What we are most agreed on is that there must not be a gap period," said Matsumoto, who attended a U.N. summit on the issue last month in New York. "There was indication that everything must be done to compile a post-2010 (target)."

A draft strategic plan for 2020, set to be formally adopted at the Nagoya talks, calls for "effective and urgent action" either "to halt the loss of biodiversity by 2020" or "toward halting the loss of biodiversity" with no deadline.

Matsumoto said funding from rich countries for developing countries to safeguard biodiversity would be discussed at the meeting. Current funding is about $3 billion a year but developing nations say this should be increased 100-fold.

"Given the responsibility of chairing the meeting, we are considering measures of support to realize the post-2010 target," Matsumoto said, although adding that he wanted to first explain how much Japan has provided so far on biodiversity.

"We are aware of talks for the need for a 100-fold increase and funding is an issue to be considered."

(Editing by Chris Gallagher and Sugita Katyal)

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