TOKYO (AFP) — The world's major carbon emitters were in "full negotiation mode" Thursday as they met in Tokyo with the clock ticking to draft a new UN treaty on fighting global warming.
Representatives from 22 countries, including major CO2 emitters China, India and the United States, as well as the European bloc are taking part in the informal two-day session.
It marks one of the first negotiating opportunities on climate change since the inauguration of US President Barack Obama, who has pledged to step up efforts by the world's largest economy to help slow down the planet's warming.
"We are now changing gears and entering a full negotiating mode," said co-chairman Sergio Barbosa Serra of Brazil, which organised the event with Japan.
The other co-chair, Akihiko Furuya of Japan, voiced hope for "ideas for a breakthrough" during the closed-door session, the beginning of which was open to the press.
UN climate chief Yvo de Boer is also participating in the session, which comes ahead of a December meeting in Copenhagen meant to approve a new treaty on global warming.
The Copenhagen treaty will cover the period after the Kyoto Protocol's obligations to curb carbon emissions expire in 2012.
"This year 2009 is of course of critical importance," Furuya said. "We have now only less than 11 months before Copenhagen."
"So it is important for all of us to work hard, even harder than before," he added.
Japan, host of the Kyoto Protocol, is badly behind in meeting its own targets as the government hesitates at restricting industry amid an uncertain economy.
During this week's meeting, WWF International said, Japan would outline six options for its mid-term emission reduction target, which would "range from a 5 percent increase of emissions to a reduction of 25 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels."
Kim Carstensen, director of the environmental group's Global Climate Initiative, said these options were too weak.
Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso "will be seen as a laggard in the UN climate talks who also fails to set his country on track for a green economy boom," Carstensen said.
Japan, which has pledged to reduce carbon emissions by up to 80 percent by 2050, will announce its mid-term target by June, Aso said last month.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »