November 19, 2007 / 11:04 AM / 12 years ago

Japan to unveil emissions proposal at ASEAN summit

SINGAPORE, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda plans to unveil a major environmental initiative at a summit in Singapore on Wednesday that will aim for drastic emissions cuts and incentives for developing-nation polluters. Japanese government officials said on Monday the initiative would aim to include the world’s biggest polluters, such as the United States and China, which have no targets to cut emissions under the United Nations’ Kyoto Protocol.

The offer, which would be conditional on assistance to developing countries in exchange for environmental protection, would be presented at talks between the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the leaders of Japan, China, South Korea and India.

“We will give incentives to East Asian countries to protect the environment,” said an official, who declined to be identified, adding that China already received $450 million in yen-denominated loans to help environmental improvements.

The United States pulled out of Kyoto, saying it would hurt economic growth and did not include developing countries, who say that rich-nation polluters should take the lead on emission cuts.

China has pledged to improve energy efficiency but does not want absolute caps on emissions, while Indonesia wants rich nations to pay it to preserve its emissions-trapping forests. These are issues to be wrangled over at a U.N. summit in Bali next month aimed at agreeing on a successor to Kyoto, whose current targets end in 2012.

“For a new framework to be meaningful, it has to be comprehensive,” the official told reporters. The initiative would follow on from a previous Japanese call for “Cool Earth 50” — a target for a 50-percent emissions cut by 2050.

But even Japan, the only Asian country with a Kyoto target, is way behind its Kyoto goal of cutting greenhouse gases, due to rising transport and housing emissions.

“The Japanese people suffered so much during our rapid growth in the 1960s and 1970s. We want to share our mistakes with our Asian neighbours so they do not make the same mistakes,” he said.

He said Japan’s economy was 10 times more energy efficient than China, and Japan was willing to share technology to help China reduce emissions. He said that western Japan suffered from pollution from China carried across the sea.

China is trying to focus more on sustainable industrial growth as it struggles with rampant air and water pollution. (Reporting by Geert Declercq; writing by Neil Chatterjee; editing by Roger Crabb)

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