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Japan welcomes U.S. return to Paris climate accord under Biden

TOKYO — Japan on Friday welcomed the United States’ return to the Paris climate accord, saying it wants to step up cooperative efforts to tackle global warming.


Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi said during a press conference the United States rejoining the Paris Agreement reached in 2015 is “great news toward the realization of the framework’s goals.”


The United States, the world’s second-largest carbon dioxide emitter after China, formally withdrew from the accord in November last year following then President Donald Trump’s announcement of a pullout in June 2017.


Koizumi said there had been “no cooperation (with the Trump administration) such as holding talks every month so it was difficult to tackle climate change.”


President Joe Biden signed a document to return to the agreement on his first day in office, paving the way for its entry 30 days later.


Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said in a separate press conference Japan will focus on “researching and developing cutting-edge technology, setting international rules and cooperating toward the realization of carbon neutrality among the Indo-Pacific countries.”


Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is planning to take part in a climate summit hosted by Biden, he added.


European Union leaders have agreed to cut greenhouse gases by 55 percent by 2030 from 1990 levels, while China is aiming for carbon neutrality by 2060.


Suga said in October shortly after taking office that the country would aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.


“The world will finally be able to resume efforts to tackle climate change,” said Kimiko Hirata, head of Japanese environmental group Kiko Network.


Japan’s emission cut plans rely on the development of new technologies many of which are not yet established, she said, urging the government to first “discuss the complete abolition of coal-fired power plants.”

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