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Remarks by Ms Yuriko Koike, Minister of the Environment of Japan, on the occasion of the Energy and Environment Ministerial Roundtable, held in London on 15-16 March 2005


Chairpersons, ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure and honor to be able to give a few words today to the many distinguished participants gathered here.

I look upon the initiative shown by the United Kingdom as a representation of her tremendous scale of vision and, equally importantly, her strong will. The Industrial Revolution was key in making possible for us a lifestyle of affluence, yet it also became the starting point for inducing climate change. I recognize with great respect and appreciation that the very country in which the Industrial Revolution began is also working so tirelessly to bring about an environmental revolution, and I would like to support the UK initiative fully.

I have heard that the name of the first exposition in world history was the "Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations," held in London in 1851. From the end of this month, Japan will host the 2005 World Exposition Aichi. The main theme of the exposition is "Nature's Wisdom," in which we can see an international mega-trend towards realization of sustainable as well as nature-conscious development. I would like all of the distinguished participants gathered here to participate in this exposition.

This Roundtable has convened in the midst of this mega-trend, and thus it constitutes a very precious opportunity for us, countries with great energy demand, as an opportunity to sit together and exchange views. Our current and future behaviors have considerable impact on the globe in terms of climate change and energy issues. It is our efforts for future cooperative actions that can strengthen and consolidate this mega-trend towards change.

I would like to fully utilize this Roundtable in order to accelerate measures to address climate change at the global scale.

In advancing these efforts, our starting point is the development of our basic understanding regarding the issues.

In this regard, the International Symposium on the Stabilization of Greenhouse Gases held in Exeter was a very valuable effort, in which up-to-date scientific knowledge on climate change was reported, and the results were shared among us.

With this basis in science, I would like to share recognition of the reality with all the participants of this Roundtable that climate change is a serious problem to be addressed and that there is a need for the early realization of a low-carbon economy.

Recognizing this reality, the Government of Japan has been making its utmost efforts in this regard. Let me take automobiles, for example. One of the policy commitments made by Prime Minister Koizumi was that all government vehicles should be converted to low-emission vehicles, or "LEVs," which launched a trend for the introduction of LEVs around the nation. Currently, two-thirds of newly-manufactured vehicles are LEVs, and this policy commitment by Prime Minister Koizumi is expected to be achieved by the end of this month.

With regard to future measures to be taken after the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol, we are going to finalize the Kyoto Protocol Target Achievement Plan, which will include additional policies and measures to existing policies.

In addition, the Japanese Diet has unanimously passed a resolution to make the utmost efforts not only in ensuring achievement of Japan's commitments under the Protocol but also in realizing a low-carbon economy ahead of other countries.

The Kyoto Protocol is a first step towards the low-carbon economy, and Japan is committed to addressing this issue by all means under the Kyoto Protocol Target Achievement Plan, not only for achieving its Kyoto target, but also for realizing this low-carbon economy.

In order to bring about this low-carbon economy, the Roundtable group, as leading partners of the international community, should undertake further actions.

One of the elements indispensable in advancing our efforts is the enhancement of international cooperation. I believe strongly that once this Roundtable group strengthens ties and makes concerted efforts towards achieving the low-carbon economy, prompt and significant advancement in climate change measures will become achievable.

To name but a few examples of effective actions, Japan has a great number of excellent energy-saving and low-carbon technologies. Japan has been working on transferring those technologies to emerging economies through both multilateral and bilateral international frameworks. For example in China, Japan is supporting countermeasures to air pollution in three cities, which also contribute to mitigating climate change, under the framework of Japan-China Environmental Model City Projects. Furthermore, in Africa, we have been supporting wind generation projects that can contribute to CO 2 emissions reductions.

The Japanese government is thus committed to making continuous efforts in this regard as one of the developed countries. I believe such efforts will bring about significant positive effects across the globe.

The Clean Development Mechanism and Joint Implementation, stipulated in the Kyoto Protocol, are also notable as important means of diffusing low-carbon technologies. Therefore, it will be necessary to utilize CDM and JI more proactively at the international level.

I believe it is important to enhance international cooperation by taking up various opportunities, through which we must further develop mutual trust among this group.

I would also like to stress the importance of long-term policy signals. Since climate change is an issue to be addressed over the long run, it is very important to demonstrate explicitly our resolution towards making steady progress through solid alignment among participating countries.

Through these signals, it will become possible to attract full-scale private investment and to activate market mechanisms such as the CDM further.

In so far as being supported by steady policy frameworks, dissemination of long-term and resilient policy signals will be effective in attracting investment.

With regard to climate change, the ultimate objective of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has not been quantified, although it advocates long-term aspects. I believe that by sending explicit and long-term policy signals we need to make further efforts towards fostering our common understanding as well as sharing and compiling scientific knowledge.

Lastly, I would like to highlight the importance of awareness raising and information sharing.

In order to accelerate the introduction and dissemination of low-carbon technologies, it is effective to promote better understanding by citizens and various stakeholders on the reality of climate change and the necessity of bringing about this low-carbon economy. To this end, it is critically important to proactively promote awareness-raising activities at various levels.

Based on this understanding, the Government of Japan has been promoting awareness-raising activities as a national movement through a variety of media. We are also promoting policies such as creating educational CD-ROMs for junior high school students in collaboration with the UK government.

At the same time, efforts towards sharing information are also of crucial importance. I believe that beneficial actions towards the realization of a low-carbon economy include the sharing among this group of information on a virtuous cycle through which both the environment and the economy are supported and enhanced. This would include sharing information such as the many opportunities which exist to promote measures on air pollution, which will also contribute to climate change mitigation.

Awareness raising and information sharing are among the agenda regarding which we could take swift and concerted actions, no matter how different the social and historical backgrounds of each participating nation. I would like to make contributions in this area along with other members of the Roundtable.

Utilizing the occasion of this Roundtable as an opportunity, we should accelerate our actions under a common understanding of the necessity of realizing the low-carbon economy.

To this end, we need to accumulate as many efforts as possible. Japan has been promoting the 3R Initiative through international cooperation. This 3R Initiative was launched through the advocacy of Prime Minister Koizumi, and a ministerial meeting on the Initiative will be held in Tokyo this April. Japan has a traditional spirit of not wasting anything that still has some value and we express this concept in the words "mottai nai." This idea is exactly what we want to accomplish through the 3R Initiative. The 3R Initiative is an action to share the spirit of "mottai nai" all over the world and reform our mass production, mass consumption and mass disposal socio-economic system into a new one which can bring about sustainable development. We believe the 3R Initiative will also contribute to the establishment of the low-carbon economy.

Let us make our strong resolution and our concerted efforts a new turning point towards the resolution of climate change and energy issues.

Thank you for your attention.





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