"The World and Japan" Database (Project Leader: TANAKA Akihiko)
Database of Japanese Politics and International Relations
National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS); Institute for Advanced Studies on Asia (IASA), The University of Tokyo

[Title] Japan's position regarding the Kyoto Protocol

[Place] tokyo
[Date] December, 2010
[Source] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
[Full text]

The best way to defend the real interest of the entire globe is to establish a new international legally-binding framework with the participation of all major economies, including the US and China which collectively occupies 40% of global energy-related CO2 emissions but are not committed to emission reduction targets under the Kyoto Protocol. Therefore, it is essential to establish a new, fair and effective international framework with the participation of all major economies including the US and China. Japan will continue to exert its utmost efforts to establish such a framework by developing the Cancun Agreements which seems to cover more than 80% of total emissions.

The current framework of the Kyoto Protocol is neither fair nor effective, as the total CO2 emissions from the Parties under the obligation of the Kyoto Protocol account for only 27%. Therefore, setting the 2nd commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol will not lead to the establishment of the new international framework as mentioned above.

Japan's position is based neither on the narrow national interest nor on business calculation. Japan is committed to continue its ambitious emission reduction efforts beyond 2012. It is harmful to extend the obligations under the Kyoto Protocol after 2012, as it will result in fixing the international framework with low emission coverage and have a risk of increasing emissions from countries which are not covered by the framework.

It is very unlikely that the US and China will participate in the legally-binding framework in the near future. The US is under very complex circumstances due to its domestic political situation and China is not going to accept an international framework which may obstruct its economic growth in the very near future.

Under these circumstances, setting the 2nd commitment period will lead to solidifying the unfair and ineffective framework beyond 2012. It is unfair, since only the Parties under the Kyoto Protocol are bound by the Kyoto Protocol, while other major economies such as the US and China have no legally-binding commitments. Also, it is ineffective in terms of achieving emissions reduction at global scale. Once the 2nd commitment period was set, the momentum of establishing a new, truly fair and effective legally-binding framework with participation of all major economies including the US and China and the momentum for that would be lost. (It is groundless to believe that the US and China will follow to accept legally-binding commitments once developed countries take a lead in undertaking their obligations.)

Japan cannot make a short term "deal", while not addressing seriously the problem of the next decade. Such a deal will by no means serve for enhancing Japan's national interest or for tackling global warming.