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Editorial: It’s time for leaders to turn pledges to tackle global warming into action

  • September 25, 2019
  • , The Japan News , 7:47 p.m.
  • English Press

Global warming measures have entered the phase in which world leaders must not merely express their determination or reveal their targets but actually reduce greenhouse gases. To what extent have world leaders been able to deepen their recognition of this?

 

The Climate Action Summit was held at U.N. headquarters, where world leaders gathered to discuss global warming.

 

German Chancellor Angela Merkel unveiled policies of doubling the budgets for battling climate change and promoting the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. French President Emmanuel Macron said his country will increase its contribution to a fund which extends support to developing countries, helping them to adapt to changes that result from global warming such as rising sea levels.

 

Toward achieving the targets set out under the Paris Agreement, an international framework for fighting global warming, 77 countries have reportedly committed to net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

 

The question is whether it is possible to realize the target. It won’t be easy for any country under dire economic circumstances to proceed with environmental measures that impose burdens on its citizens.

 

Even since the Paris accord was adopted in 2015, the brakes have not been applied to greenhouse gas emissions, which have increased. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2018 reached a record high. The average global temperature for the 2015-19 period is expected to be the warmest on record.

 

It is feared that natural disasters, in the form of typhoons, floods, droughts and the like, will become more likely. Besides human losses, economic activity will also suffer a blow.

 

U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres appealed to world leaders, saying, “The biggest cost is doing nothing.” The Paris accord is to be implemented from 2020. The endeavors of the signatories to implement their commitments should be accelerated.

 

Assume responsibility

 

First of all, the United States and China, which are the two largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world, each need to assume due responsibility.

 

The United States has announced its withdrawal from the accord, and is moving ahead with easing environmental regulations. U.S. President Donald Trump made an appearance at the summit but did not make a speech.

 

Wang Yi, Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said, “Developed countries need to take the lead in reducing [greenhouse gas] emissions,” emphasizing China’s position on the part of developing countries. As a major economic power, it is irresponsible for China to say this.

 

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe forewent his attendance at the summit, as he was unable to adjust his schedule. At a meeting related to the summit, Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi said Japan will cooperate with other countries “to realize a decarbonized society.”

Japan should promote the development of materials produced by reusing CO2 and support developing countries with energy-saving technologies.

 

Movements among young people, mainly in Western countries, calling for governments to accelerate their global climate measures have become spirited. A 16-year-old Swedish environmentalist told world leaders during the summit meeting that “you are failing us.”

 

Implementing appropriate policies and passing better environments down to the next generation — leaders of countries must assume this grave responsibility.

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