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Editorial: Keep Paris Agreement on course, even without the United States

The Paris Agreement is the cornerstone of efforts to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases on a global scale. Each nation must cooperate and make sure the agreement functions steadily.


The 23rd session of the Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has wrapped up in Bonn, Germany. This was the first COP meeting since U.S. President Donald Trump announced the United States was pulling out of the Paris accord.


In a speech during the convention, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for unity on the agreement by saying, “We now need to put it into practice together.” Other European leaders also showed their resolve to fill the gap left by the United States and lead measures to combat global warming.


There was no sign of nations moving to follow the United States, which is the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China. It can be said that COP23’s biggest achievement was preserving the solidarity of every country under the Paris Agreement.


The occurrence of powerful typhoons and hurricanes has become more conspicuous. Torrential rain and flooding also are occurring frequently. Weather phenomena that had previously been mentioned as likely adverse effects of global warming are becoming reality.


The small southern Pacific nation of Fiji presided over COP23. Although the conference was held in Germany due to the logistics of hosting such a major event, Fiji brought attention to the threats directly facing island nations, such as damage caused by storm surges.


Nuclear power vital


The Paris Agreement will formally commence in 2020. The main agenda items at COP23 were methods to measure each nation’s emissions and the process for increasing emission targets every five years.


Although each nation can independently set its own reduction target, the results will need to be verifiable by an external party. The agreement text mentions speeding up the creation of rules on this issue. Constructive efforts will be required.


At COP23, each nation explained its own measures to reduce emissions. French President Emmanuel Macron announced his country would close down all its coal-fired power plants by 2021.


Macron also indicated his plan to continue using nuclear power plants in the future. At the conference, he emphasized that reducing reliance on nuclear power would necessitate the restart of coal-fired power plants, and that priority should be given to cutting emissions of carbon dioxide.

It is hugely significant that Macron stressed the usefulness of nuclear power plants, which do not emit carbon dioxide.


Japan has set a target of slashing its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent from fiscal 2013 levels by fiscal 2030. Since the 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, most of Japan’s nuclear plants have halted operations and the nation is relying heavily on electricity generated by burning fossil fuels. Gradually activating nuclear plants that have been confirmed safe to operate will be essential for achieving the emissions target.


The Japanese government announced it will provide technical support for developing countries and launch a satellite called Ibuki-2 that can measure concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.


Further refining Japan’s scientific technologies, such as technologies that save energy, will contribute to the world. That will boost Japan’s presence on the international stage.

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