November 25, 2010 / 11:27 AM / 10 years ago

Japan says extending Kyoto pact is "meaningless"

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan opposes extending the Kyoto Protocol binding only rich nations to limit carbon emissions and will fight for a broader deal even if it finds itself isolated at U.N. talks, a senior official said on Thursday.

Nearly 200 nations will gather in Cancun, Mexico, from November 29-December 10 to try to agree on some of the elements of a U.N. deal to combat global warming, although most have given up hope for a new treaty any time soon.

The ultimate aim of the talks is to find a successor to the existing Kyoto Protocol, which limits emissions of rich nations until 2012.

Simply extending a pact that excludes China and the United States — the world’s two top emitters — would be “meaningless and inappropriate”, said Hideki Minamikawa, vice minister for global environmental affairs at Japan’s environment ministry.

Kyoto obliges almost 40 industrialized nations to cut emissions by at least 5.2 percent below 1990 levels from 2008-12. The United States is outside the deal.

“European countries from this year have proposed that it could be okay to extend the commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol if it is joined by major emitters, but we have made clear that this is not acceptable,” Minamikawa told a news conference.

“Even if the issue of extending the Kyoto Protocol becomes a major item on the agenda in Cancun and Japan finds itself isolated, Japan will not agree to this.”.

Japan would not sign to new commitments if the Kyoto pact were to be extended, although it would not pull out of the framework altogether, he added.

“Even if there is agreement (on extending Kyoto), countries under the framework must consent in writing and provisions won’t apply to those that do not submit consent.

“Under the current circumstances, it is inconceivable that Japan would submit its consent in writing, so in that case ...the agreement would not apply to Japan.”

Japan has opposed extending the Kyoto pact out of concern that the move could entrench a framework that exempts emerging economies and the United States from commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But developing nations say the rich must unilaterally extend Kyoto, saying they are responsible for causing the problem of global warming in the first place. (Reporting by Chisa Fujioka; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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