Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet  
Speeches and Statements by Prime Minister TOP

Speech by H.E. Mr Yasuo Fukuda, Prime Minister
at the Conference for Environmental Security
-- A Message for the G8 Leaders

13 June 2008
(Provisional translation)

Photograph of the Prime Minister Delivering a Speech
Photograph courtesy of the Asahi Shimbun


I should first of all like to thank you very much for inviting me today to the Conference for Environmental Security -- A Message for the G8 Leaders.

I consider "a message for the G8 leaders," the theme of this symposium, a proposal to me. Although I had thought that giving a short speech would be sufficient, I now know this not to be the case: the Conference's theme is a matter of direct interest of me as Prime Minister. As such, I cannot but steel myself. In any event, I should once again like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to all of you for compiling the message on this occasion.

The two-day Conference will intensively discuss global environmental issues with a great number of participants, including Minister of Climate and Energy of Denmark Connie Hedegaard, former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom Margaret Beckett, and other opinion leaders from Japan and abroad, as well as representatives of the business sector. I am looking forward to hearing new ideas and proposals brought about through the discussions at the Conference.

On Monday of this week, with exactly one month to go before the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit, I announced Japan's views on countermeasures to global warming. In my speech, I made four points.

First, we must halve global greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050. For its part, Japan will set a goal of reducing, by 2050, 60-80% of its current level of emissions;

Second, we must build an effective framework in which all the main carbon emitters participate, in order for the world's total emissions to peak out in roughly the next ten to twenty years;

Third, the key to achieving these targets will be the introduction and dissemination of existing advanced energy-saving and renewable-energy technologies, not to mention the development of innovative technologies; and

Fourth, not only the Government's efforts but also the sustained efforts of the industrial sector and each member of the public are essential to achieve a low-carbon society.

Bearing in mind the theme of this symposium -- a message for the G8 leaders -- today I should like to outline my basic views focusing on international strategy.

What needs to be kept in mind first and foremost is the fact that global environmental issues are only resolved through a global undertaking.

For example, peaking out the world's total emissions in roughly the next ten to twenty years means shifting overall global emissions to a decreasing trend.

However, data for 2005 shows that the emissions of countries that have made commitments to curb emissions under the Kyoto Protocol account for only 30% of the world's total emissions.

Without the participation of the other countries that account for 70% of the global emissions, it would be difficult to peak out the world's total emissions.

Therefore, in creating a post-Kyoto framework, it is paramount to have a "total participation" framework that includes all the major economies. The premise of such a framework will be greater roles to be played by developed countries compared with developing countries.

What must be done to ensure the participation of all the main carbon emitters? This perspective should be given top priority in the international discussions to come.

Under a "total participation" framework, all the countries first need to maintain a balance with economic growth.

Speaking in extremely general terms, emission volume is calculated by multiplying the total amount of economic activity by energy efficiency rates. In other words, unless innovative technologies that enable zero CO2 emissions are developed, the choices for reducing the emission volume are either to reduce the amount of economic activity or to increase energy efficiency rates.

Asking another country to forsake economic growth is not an option, particularly for countries like India and China, which are rapidly developing, as well as for other developing countries. It is only natural that they claim their rights to further development.

That leads to the importance of focusing more on ways to increase energy efficiency.

The key to reducing emissions in the immediate term is to develop and globally disseminate technologies that keep CO2 emissions to a minimum in energy use.

Technology has always been the point of focus in Japan's energy sector: Japan has spent much more than the United States or European countries on research and development investments. In the same vein, Japan's energy efficiency rates are at higher levels than the United States and the European Union (EU).

Japan should continue to play the important role of leading the world's endeavours in this sector. At the Davos Conference in January, I announced a "Low-carbon Technology Plan" through which Japan will invest 30 billion dollars over the next five years. When I made that proposal, I had in mind that we would make use of the knowledge, ideas and technologies possessed by the private sector.

It is based on this view that I instructed concerned government agencies to compile a plan to realise an initiative for a public-private joint fund, which will also be open to countries abroad. Through this fund, Japan's technologies will be actively utilised to address issues not only in the environment and energy sectors but also issues of global scale, such as ones related to food and water.

Japan intends to provide generously the technologies and knowledge that are generated through such endeavours to developing countries and major economies such as China and India.

The second point is that arguing groundless numbers by making empty calls or through political propaganda will not help the advancement of countermeasures to global warming.

We must first of all accurately identify reduction amounts -- targets in whose certain attainment each nation can respectively take responsibility. Those targets should be the foundation of international negotiations.

The sectoral approach that Japan is proposing is a methodology to that end.

With the sectoral approach, we would consider in great detail to what extent emissions can be reduced in each sector through the introduction of the most advanced technologies. The potential emissions reductions are then each tallied up. Setting aside the cost involved, we would thus be able to calculate emissions reductions volumes that are scientifically and technically feasible.

We should persuade other nations to analyse scientifically the actual extent of their reduction potentials by applying a sectoral approach and to report on the results at the Fourteenth Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP14) due to be held in December this year.

Some raise doubt that given that the sectoral approach is a method of calculating from the bottom up, it will not be able to ensure the emissions reductions necessary to peak out the world's total emissions by 2020. Others say that quantified national emission reduction targets should be set on a top-down basis.

The question is if we can gain a "total participation" when targets are imposed one way or another on countries without considering their situations and efforts in the past.

Let's say some countries decide to participate. If the targets do not have a realistic calculation basis, however, along the way some countries may end up saying, "In the end, we cannot achieve the target and so we withdraw."

In order to avoid such a situation, we should first take a bottom-up approach to make scientific and technical calculations and grasp to what extent we would realistically be able to reduce emissions worldwide.

Once we have identified a gap between global reduction potentials and the actual reduction amounts required to peak out, we can consider the role of the developed countries and level of the targets to be met, while clarifying the measures to close the gap, such as the acceleration of efforts to develop innovative technologies.

A common methodology should be established, bearing in mind other countries' assessments of the sectoral approach. Japan, for its part, intends to announce its quantified national target at an appropriate time next year.

The base year becomes an issue in setting quantified national targets.

In the speech that I made earlier this week, I stated that it is possible for Japan to achieve, by 2020, a further reduction of 14% from the 2005 level, a reduction of the same order as that to be made by the EU. To this, some people asked why not use the year 1990 as the base year.

Indeed, the EU has proposed reducing emissions by 20% or more on the part of developed countries compared to the 1990 level.

The total amount of emissions of the developed countries in 1990 was 18.5 billion tons. This same figure was 18.2 billion tons in 2005, having made only a very small change.

Even if we reduce emissions by 20% compared to the 1990 level, the total emissions of the developed countries in 2020 will be 14.8 billion tons. If we have 2005 as the base year and do the same calculation, this figure becomes 14.6 billion tons, only a very small difference. Therefore, it is pointless to argue which of these proposals is more strict. Rather, the point of focus should be on which of these would elicit participation by more countries.

With this point in mind, let's compare the distribution of the global emissions, which has changed significantly from 1990 to 2005.

For example, China's GDP has grown by 3.8 times in the fifteen years from 1990 to 2005. India's GDP has expanded 2.4 times during the same period. Accordingly, the shares of China and India in the world's emissions increased from a mere 11% and 3%, respectively, in 1990, to 19% and 4% in 2005.

We need to consider carefully the wisdom of calling for countries undergoing significant economic development such as China and India, as well as for developing countries set to reap the fruits of such growth, to reduce emissions compared to the 1990 level.

I fully intend to humbly heed various opinions. At the same time, what we need is an effective framework that is built on the premise of total participation. I certainly hope that talks will be held based on this overall basic recognition.

Those are some of my basic views. Japan, as an advanced nation in terms of the environment, will continue to exert its leadership in the creation of a post-Kyoto framework.

The G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit will be held next month. As a first step towards an international agreement to be concluded at the end of next year in Copenhagen, I intend to engage in fruitful discussions with world leaders.

I will certainly make good reference to the message of this symposium.

Thank you.