Cancun: Japan on Thursday said that it will not accept a second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, which has been the most divisive issue during the climate change conference here.
Japanese environment minister Ryu Matsumoto told his Indian counterpart Jairam Ramesh during a meeting that continuing with Kyoto was not in their ““national interest.”
After the meeting, Ramesh said the Japanese made it clear that their stance was not a “negotiating tactic” and their decision “calls into question the existence of Kyoto.”
“Kyoto as we know it has gone,” said Ramesh.
Since the start of the conference, Japan has indicated that it does not want anything more to do with the 1997 agreement, which is the only legally binding instrument that imposes binding cuts on industrialized countries.
Under the first commitment period, which ends in 2012, rich nations committed to cut emissions by an average 5 per cent over 1990 levels.
Japan and European Union, however, have pointed out that the Kyoto Protocol only covers 27% of carbon emissions and does not include the largest emitters of greenhouse gases - US and China.
The EU, however, is willing to continue with the Kyoto Protocol if certain conditions are attached.
India and China, however, insist that while they will take on voluntary domestic measures to reduce their carbon emissions, it is the responsibility of the developed nations to accept legally binding commitments.
Kyoto Protocol hinges on the ratification of those rich countries, which together contributed at least 55 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions in 1990. That condition was met only in 2005 after Russia ratified it.
Japan pulling out could mean that the condition of at least 55 per cent emission contribution may no longer be met.
Japan has two years to change in mind.
Previously Ramesh has described the Kyoto Protocol as the “make or break” issue at Cancun summit.
The environment minister today told the Japanese that their decision is “regrettable but understandable.”
Both countries agreed that this decision should not impact their bilateral relations and Jairam thanked Japan for the $1 billion which India will receive over the next seven year for forest conservation through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
A total of 187 countries have ratified the Kyoto Protocol.