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Japan declined to chair discussion group for U.N. climate summit

  • September 20, 2019
  • , Kyodo News , 12:58 p.m.
  • English Press

TOKYO — Japan has declined a request to chair a group for discussing ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions for the U.N. Climate Action Summit in New York slated for next week, the Foreign Ministry said Friday.


While the ministry said Japan’s decision not to chair the meeting after being initially listed to do so in March was due to its focus on preparing for the Group of 20 summit in Osaka in June, a government source said Japan’s negative stance on raising its emissions reduction target was a key factor.


“I heard that we declined as it would be difficult for Japan, which has made little progress in (domestic) debate on reviewing the target, to lead the talks while countries that have decided to raise their reduction targets participate,” the source said.


The 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change calls on signatories to raise their emissions reduction target by 2020. Japan has set the goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent in fiscal 2030 from fiscal 2013 levels, but there has been limited debate on upgrading the target.


U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has called for the climate summit to be held Monday out of his strong concern about global warming. The outcomes of discussions by nine groups of working-level officials held under different themes will be reported to the gathering.


The United Nations had asked Japan and Chile to chair the group on enhancing mitigation commitments of major emitting countries and the two countries were initially listed as chairs on its website in March.


But Japan’s name has since been removed. The ministry said Japan’s name was put on the website while it was still considering whether or not to serve as chair.


Japan’s environment groups expressed disappointment at the government’s declining the role.


Kimiko Hirata, board member of Kiko Network, said Tokyo may have turned down the request to chair the group out of fear that its policy of maintaining coal-fired thermal power generation which emits a significant amount of carbon dioxide could draw international criticism.


“We want the government to drastically review its (climate) policy and show resolve to tackle critical situations that could be caused by global warming,” Hirata said.

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