To commit or not to commit? – Japan said no to post-KP

Unlike some of the European countries sign on to a second commitment period of Kyoto protocol to begin in 2013, yesterday Japan stressed that it would never accept a second commitment period and would never agree to place its greenhouse gas emission reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol. This is no doubt a great shock for other participants who were hoping for a more stringent mitigation goal. And the biggest concern is the effect that this announcement will have on the other Annex 1 countries. The announcement came of course as a major disappointment to small island states like Tuvalu, which, just the day before, had expressed its concern that developed countries seemed to lack the resolution to move on. If AWG-KP has no achievement in setting a post-2012 reduction target in Cancun, we might need to find another way out.

Japan might have good reason to deny a second commitment, and is not of course proposing that it will stop efforts to reduce greenhouse gas. Japan stated that climate change situation is no longer the same as before. And setting an emission cap on a small proportion of greenhouse gas emission is not effective enough. We need global solutions to carry on. In fact, Japan is still earnestly participating in climate change actions. In 2008, they hosted a big exhibition to promote a “green simple life style” to reach the goal of cutting 50 percent of their greenhouse gas emission in 2050 by public sectors, private sectors, and by individuals. The exhibition incorporated elements such as environmental friendly daily use products, environmental educations, and new technology to cut down emission from different sectors. In yesterdays’ side event, they proposed a “co-benefit support system” to help developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island countries, to create a double dividend of sustainable development and climate change mitigation or adaptation actions base on a top-down development. They also committed to provide financial and technical supports for countries in need.

Personally, I feel it ironic that European countries and Japan show great resolution to fight climate change, but United States who has almost a double CO2 intensity than Japan and EU (Union of concerned scientist. 2009) remains tardy. This is disappointing because the US is not behaving like the world leader it claims to be, but we are running out of time to take actions.
As the ambassador of a small island country explained in a food security and human rights session, “we are islanders. We smiled a lot, but now we grieve”. People import oil, food, tourists, swipe out mangroves and coral reefs. Tourists use water spendthrift while other islanders relying on rain water now have irregular rain water supply due to climate change: rain seasons shortened but become stronger, and dry seasons are longer. “We are not talking what is climate change. We are talking what it is doing now!!”

To commit to reduce greenhouse gas is important, but most important of all is to really take actions. It is time to practice our environmental friendly principle in our daily life – my principle is to always finish my food on plate to avoid wasting even it might make me look piggy…:)  It is also time to reach out our comfortable bubble and really consider other people. Let’s make a difference!