G-7 OKs Early Climate Strategy Submissions

TOKYO (The Japan News/Yomiuri) -

Environment ministers of the Group of Seven industrialized nations have agreed that their countries will submit their respective long-term strategies to address global warming earlier than 2020 – a deadline stipulated under the Paris Agreement adopted last year.

The agreement to move up the submission of the long-term strategies was incorporated in a communique issued by the G-7 environment ministers after they wrapped up their two-day meeting in Toyama on Monday. The G-7 countries aim to lead worldwide efforts to tackle global warming.

The Paris Agreement adopted in the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) in December last year set a long-term goal of keeping the global temperature rise to “well below” 2°C over pre-Industrial Revolution levels. Each country that signed the Paris Agreement is required to separately submit a concrete strategy to achieve this goal.

The communique also encourages popularization of the Joint Crediting Mechanism, a scheme implemented by Japan for bilateral trading of credit for greenhouse emission reductions.

Under the JCM, Japan provides energy-saving technologies to developing countries and is then allowed to count parts of that country’s greenhouse gas emission reductions as Japan’s own emission cuts.

The communique stipulated that the G-7 countries are encouraged to share experiences and tasks for the purpose. The communique pointed out that each of the countries needs to take policy actions to assist other countries in popularizing energy-saving technologies as measures to cope with global warming on mid- and long-term timelines. The environment ministers also confirmed that the G-7 countries will share information and tasks about the JCM or similar schemes.

The environment ministers also agreed to regulate hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), replacements for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) known as CFC substitutes, which are substantially more potent greenhouse gases than carbon dioxide (CO2). CFC substitutes are used as refrigerants for air conditioners and refrigerators.

CFC substitutes were developed to replace CFCs, which are regulated as a substance that destroys the ozone layer under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer adopted in 1987. The use of CFC substitutes has rapidly spread since the 2000s, although their greenhouse gas effects were found to be several thousand times greater than those of CO2.

During the meeting, the environment ministers also agreed that the G-7 countries will cooperate in continuously monitoring mercury emitted from developing countries. The cooperation aims to accelerate efforts to put into force the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which is designed to regulate manufacturing and exporting of products containing mercury.

It has been considered problematic that there is currently no system to accurately measure mercury emissions in the atmosphere, which mostly occurs in developing countries, including other Asian countries.