News

    Kyoto Protocol Takes Effect

    The Kyoto Protocol on global warming has come into effect after years of delays.  But the landmark agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions lacks the support of the United States and there is concern that the accord will not achieve its targets in Japan.

    Ceremonies to mark the Kyoto Protocol were held in the former Japanese capital where the agreement was negotiated in 1997.  Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, speaking from Tokyo via a videophone, said the landmark pact will have a positive impact on future generations if it can achieve its goals.

    Mr. Koizumi says Japan will lead the drive to halt global warming.

    Despite hopes the protocol will help clean the air, there is concern that some signatories, including Japan, will not be able to cut gas emissions to pledged levels.

    Japan has increased its greenhouse emissions by eight percent since 1990 and that means it now faces a cut of 14 percent against 1990 levels to achieve its targets under the agreement.  If Japan fails to meet its reduction goal by then it will be forced to cut emissions by an additional 30 percent under the Kyoto pact's second stage, starting in 2013.

    Hiroki Kudo, who manages the Environment and Energy Conservation Group at Japan's Institute of Energy Economics, is pessimistic the country can hit its numbers.

    "The Japanese government has the plan to achieve the Kyoto target towards the year 2012,”  said Mr. Kudo.  “But, probably, we will recognize if we [can] achieve the Kyoto target or not around the year 2010 or 2012.  It is too late to enforce the more strong policy measures and government will try to take the carbon credit through emission trading."

    Under this trading program, countries unable to meet their Kyoto goals can buy or swap credits with countries that have exceeded their targets.

    The protocol commits nations to cut their industrial emissions of six carbon gases.  These gases are thought to cause a number of environmental problems and significantly contribute to global warming.

    Japan also is thinking about funding emission-reduction projects in developing countries.  This would also win Japan credits for its domestic quota.

    But environmentalists, such as Aya Inoue of the Ecosystem Conservation Society of Japan, do not like that approach.

    "It is a kind of makeshift for the time being by using taxpayers' money,” she noted.  “We do not think it is an appropriate measure as it has nothing to do with reduction in emission of greenhouse gases in our country."

    But many experts, such as Mr. Kudo, believe the protocol will never get that far, so long as it is boycotted by the United States, the world's biggest polluter, and unless it specifies emission reduction targets for developing countries.

    The United States was a signatory to the 1997 treaty, but the U.S. Senate unanimously urged then-President Clinton to reject it. The Bush administration abandoned the pact after coming to power in 2001, saying it would hurt the U.S. economy and that its failure to set the same emissions standards for rapidly industrializing developing countries as developed nations, was a major flaw.
     
    U.S. Ambassador Howard Baker defended his country's stand as the Kyoto protocol became law.

    "It is really a bum rap,” he said.  “It is America that spends five billion dollars a year on improvement of the air quality.  My guess would be that is an order of magnitude greater than any other nation on earth and perhaps more than the rest of the world combined."

    The Japanese government calls the absence of the United States regrettable, and says it is still trying to convince Washington to join the treaty.


    Steve Herman

    A veteran journalist, Steve Herman is VOA's Southeast Asia Bureau Chief and Correspondent, based in Bangkok.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limitedi
    X
    Katie Arnold
    May 04, 2016 12:31 PM
    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora