Japan to sign global climate pact 'as soon as possible': minister

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 07, 2016 5:37 AM

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will seek to ratify the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement to cut emissions and prevent climate change as soon as possible, after support from European nations sent the accord over an important threshold earlier this week.

"We would like to make our best efforts to complete ratification as soon as possible," Japanese environment minister Koichi Yamamoto told a news conference on Friday, adding the government will submit a ratification bill to parliament as early as Oct. 11.

However, approval may take weeks and if Japan misses the Nov. 4 implementation date for the agreement, that could limit its ability to influence negotiations on the finer details of the agreement. Those talks are set to formally start during the COP-22 meeting in Morocco next month.

Backing for the accord from several European nations, Canada, Bolivia and Nepal this week pushed the agreement past the 55 percent of emitters limit needed for implementation, with U.S. President Barack Obama calling for other nations to sign up "as soon as possible."

The agreement is meant to cut global greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels, to limit floods, droughts, more powerful storms and rising ocean levels.

"We were surprised to see EU and some other nations to ratify the agreement so quickly," a Japanese government official told Reuters on Friday.

Other government sources also said it makes Japan look bad diplomatically as it hosted the Group of Seven summit in May where leaders agreed to ratify the agreement this year.

"It may mean Japan's voice will have less influence in discussions over detailed rules," said Kentaro Tamura, leader of climate and energy area at the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies.

Environment Minister Yamamoto denied there would be any substantial impact from non-ratification as of Nov. 4 on Japan's ability to influence the Morocco negotiations.

Japan has also been criticized for pressing ahead with plans to open scores of new coal-fired power plants at home and as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government pushes coal burning power technology abroad.

(Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Editing by Aaron Sheldrick and Christian Schmollinger)