Interviews TOP

no.015 [Nov. 2010]
Jusen ASUKA (Director, IGES Climate Change Group)
no.014 [Aug. 2010]
Magnus BENGTSSON (Director, IGES Sustainable Consumption and Production Group)
no.013 [Feb. 2010]
Masanori KOBAYASHI (Coordinator, IGES Programme Management Office)
no.012 [Sep. 2009]
Charmine KODA (Journalist & IGES Board Director)
no.011 [Feb. 2009]
Peter KING (Senior Policy Advisor, IGES Bangkok Office)
no.010 [Nov. 2008]
Rajendra PACHAURI (Director-General, TERI) & Dr. Rabinder MALIK (Coordinator, TERI-Japan)
no.009 [Aug. 2008]
Hideaki KOYANAGI (Director, IGES Beijing Office)
no.008 [Feb.2008]
Taka HIRAISHI (Member of the Board of Directors & Senior Consultant, IGES)
no.007 [Jul.2007]
(Chair of the Board of Directors, IGES)
no.006 [Mar.2007]
(Policy Researcher, IGES)
no.005 [Jul.2006]
ANCHA Srinivasan
(Principal Research Fellow, IGES)
no.004 [Mar.2006]
(Policy Researcher, IGES)
no.003 [Nov.2005]
(Policy Researcher, IGES)
no.002 [Jun.2005]
(Policy Researcher, IGES)
(Former Chair of the Board of Directors, IGES)

E-alert Interviews No.003
The fate of the Kyoto Protocol at COP/MoP1

Ms. Rie Watanabe
Researcher, Climate Policy Project, IGES

Ms. Watanabe, joined IGES in April 1998, has LL.M. in Civil Law from the University of Tokyo, Japan. She was a visiting reseacher at the Environmental Law Center of IUCN (Bonn, Germany) from February to September 2003 and at the Wuppertal Institute(Wuppertal, Germany) from October 2003 to March 2004. At IGES she works on the comparative analysis of climate policy-making process between Germany and Japan, Kyoto mechanisms, post-2012 regime from the legal perspective and compliance of the Kyoto Protocol.

image: Dr. Kamal

--- Ms. Watanabe, what was it that led you to become a researcher?
Looking back now, ever since I was a child I have often wondered and posed questions about things in the world that are ordinarily taken for granted. As I grew older, I realised that there was basically nobody who could provide me with satisfactory answers. I noticed that people tend to take things for granted, even when the reasons behind them are not particularly clear. Looking back now, the 60s and 70s were quite turbulent decades to live through. Even though I was a child, I felt constrained by pre-existing systems and tended to question everything. As a result, I found that the only thing to do was to find answers to the questions myself and so began to investigate a variety of things. It was truly enjoyable when I found answers. What led me to choose the path of a researcher was the questions I had about apparently self-evident aspects of real-world systems, as well as the satisfaction I felt when I found answers to those questions.

---- Ms. Watanabe, please tell us about the research that you carry out in the IGES Climate Policy Project.

The comparison of Japanese and German climate policy processes
One area that I am working on is the comparison of Japanese and German climate policy processes. In the Kyoto Protocol adopted in 1997, developed nations, referred to in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as "Annex 1 Parties," committed to controlling their greenhouse gases emissions with different numerical targets from 2008 to 2012. Yet, at present there are very few countries which control their GHG emissions in line with their targets. Germany is, however, one of these few successful countries. Nevertheless, some insist that Germany's achievement in reducing emission quantities is just a result of the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990 and the subsequent improvement of energy efficiency at factories and buildings in the former East German states with relative ease.

At the symposium on "Climate Policy 2005 and Beyond", Ms. Watanabe presented about the emission trading system in Germany.
A German research institute examined the impact of reunification on emission reductions in Germany and revealed that the portion due to improved energy efficiency in the Eastern states was about 50% and the remaining 50% was due to climate policies and measures. Since Japan imported a variety of systems from Germany in its initial stages of modernisation, there are similarities between Japan and Germany in terms of institutional systems, relationships between industry and government and also industrial structure. Specifically, both are developed nations reliant on heavy industry. Then, the question arises as to why Germany has somehow been able to introduce effective policies and Japan has not.

Where do Japan and Germany differ in policy development?
I am carrying out a comparative analysis on the policy development in both countries based on the assumption that differences in such development are the cause of this discrepancy. If this is true, then there are things that Japan can learn from this research. It should also be relatively easy to implement what is learned, thanks to the fundamental similarities in the structures of both countries. In research to date, several factors which enabled the introduction of policies responsible for the latter 50% reduction have been identified. Such a factor was the change in administration with the 1998 federal elections, resulting in the Green Party's participation in the government. There were also external factors, such as the adoption of an 8% reduction target by the European Community regarding the Kyoto Protocol and the impact on German policy of the development of climate policy at an EU level.

Other studies that I am currently conducting include those about the Kyoto Mechanisms and the compliance issue of the Kyoto Protocol.

Kyoto Mechanisms - An Option Survey for Japan to acquire credits from abroad
As one aspect of research on EU climate policy, an option survey regarding Japan's acquisition of credits from abroad was carried out last year in collaboration with a German research institute.

Utilisation of the Kyoto Mechanisms
Japan committed to a 6% reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol. However, according to the Kyoto Protocol Target Acquirement Plan which was adopted in May of this year, Japan faces difficulties in achieving this target due to the employment of domestic policies and measures. 1.6% of the target is expected to be procured through utilising the Kyoto mechanisms. The EU member states and their companies have already embarked on acquiring credits, developing national purchasing schemes and enabling the use of credits yielded through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and the Joint Implementation (JI) projects within the EU regional emissions trading scheme. In contrast, Japan has still not established a national purchasing scheme or a domestic emissions trading system. In this project, the five options of the JI, the CDM, international emissions trading, green investment scheme (or Green AAUs) and the establishment of domestic emissions trading system and its linkage with emissions trading schemes in other countries will be evaluated in respect of five criteria. These consist of environment integrity, cost (price and transaction cost), political acceptability, size of potential and long-term impact. Thus we will have investigated the optimal methods for Japan to acquire credits from abroad in order to achieve its target set under the Kyoto Protocol.

Compliance mechanisms and procedures of the Protocol
After the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, its operational details were adopted in the form of the Bonn Agreement in June 2001 and the Marrakech Accord in November 2001. One of the most contentious issues at the adoption of the Bonn and Marrakech agreements was the legal nature of compliance mechanisms and procedures.

The Kyoto Protocol imposes several commitments on the Parties. Compliance mechanisms and procedures stipulate consequences when the Parties do not comply with their commitments. The legal nature of the consequences (whether legally-binding or not) was contentious when the Bonn Agreement and the Marrakech Accord were adopted. Many countries argue that the consequences should be legally-binding but others argue contrarily.

Japan's insistence: legally-binding consequences is the key
With the declaration by the United States to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol in March 2001, ratification by Japan and Russia was necessary in order for the Kyoto Protocol to enter into force. The bargaining power of both countries therefore became prevalent. Since those two countries continued to insist that legally-binding consequences should not be included, it was agreed that the legal nature of non-compliance consequences would be determined at the meeting of the Parties (MOP) of the Kyoto Protocol, to be convened after the protocol had been put into effect. This issue of compliance was one of the most contentious issues at the COP/MoP1.

In 2002 after the adoption of the Marrakech Accord, an analysis was conducted regarding what the differences would be if non-compliance consequences were legally-binding or not, and why Japan was opposed to the introduction of legally-binding consequences. A report was issued on this research in 2003. Based on this, we have recently conducted research regarding the options that Japan should take at the COP/MoP1 in November/December 2005, as well as an analysis of the impact on the proposal to revise the decision related to the compliance mechanisms and procedures submitted by Saudi Arabia in May 2005.

Saudi Arabia's revision proposal specifically poses the question of the legal nature of consequences. The difference between legally-binding consequences and non-legally-binding consequences is whether fulfilling the consequences is a legal obligation or a political responsibility for the Party in non-compliance. Naturally, a legal obligation is more serious than a political responsibility. However, different from national laws, there is no enforcement system under international law, thus in practice there is no difference in either case. Nevertheless, the adoption method of compliance mechanisms and procedures will differ depending on its legal nature. If it is legally-binding, it must be adopted in the form of a protocol revision. Such revisions require a three-quarter majority of the Parties ratifying the Protocol. In contrast, if it is not legally- binding, it is adopted as a decision of the MoP.

Will the implementation of the Kyoto Mechanisms be impossible?

In addition, the compliance mechanisms and procedures have an impact on the use of the Kyoto mechanisms. The executive branch of the Compliance Committee is responsible for judging eligibility to use the Kyoto mechanisms. Therefore, if the compliance mechanisms and procedures are not adopted at the COP/MoP1, the committee may not be able to be established, which would influence the implementation of the Kyoto mechanisms. Japan would like to adopt the compliance mechanisms and procedures in the context of Kyoto mechanisms as soon as possible, but without the legislative binding consequences. A solution must be found in order to deal effectively with these two conflicting issues.

A project designing the future climate regime from a legal perspective: finding a common understanding of legal principles stipulated in Article 3 of UNFCCC
Analysis of the two above research topics is conducted based on policy science. In contrast, research on this topic is being conducted from a legal perspective.

Are emission reduction targets reasonable?
Under the Kyoto Protocol, emission reduction targets for GHGs were agreed as 6% for Japan, 7% for the United States, and 8% for the EU for the first commitment period (2008 - 2012). The targets were agreed as a political compromise during the negotiations, rather than being based on reason. For example, the United States had been insisting on no emission reduction before the Kyoto Conference, but agreed to a 7% reduction in the end. One of the reasons that the United States withdrew from the protocol was that it had committed to a target which would never receive domestic consensus. Furthermore, as the targets had not been determined logically, there was no way to persuade the domestic stakeholders. In Japan, as well, many complained about why a 6% reduction target was agreed to by the country which had already attained high energy-efficiency.

Article 3 of the UNFCCC stipulates principles for establishing various obligations to stabilise the concentration of GHGs. This project analyses such principles and aims to provide common understanding so as to give order to the obligations and targets imposed by post-2012 regime. Although basic principles must serve as the basis for determining targets and obligations, Article 3 includes wording that is not clear and may be interpreted in different ways by each country, such as "common but differentiated responsibility" or "equity". We are now analysing the interpretation and implementation of these principles in the major countries, aiming to draw definitions which can be mutually and clearly shared.

--- What have you enjoyed in conducting your research?
When I'm starting research, no matter what it is, I immediately think of questions and hypothesise their answers. It is a joy to find answers, regardless of whether or not my hypotheses are correct. My research especially involves the policy-making process. As part of that, I conduct interviews with stakeholders who are involved in the policy-making process. I enjoy getting to know these people and having a picture of what is happening.

--- In contrast, what are the most challenging and difficult points in conducting research?
The most difficult thing is to make real policies that reflect research results. They may not be immediately implemented because of timing or they are not always accepted by policy-makers because the research findings and what the policy-makers are looking for are not necessarily in accord.

--- In the future, what sort of research are you interested in doing at IGES?
Through the comparison of climate policy formation processes between Japan and Germany, I will identify the problems affecting Japan and provide specific proposals for improvements with respect to the Japanese policy-making process.

Furthermore, I would like to apply the above research framework to other cases, particularly in Asia. However, it may be difficult to apply frameworks designed for analysing developed countries to the case of developing countries.

I'm also interested in researching the applicability of the idea of an EU-like regional community in Asia. In the case of the EU, various member states recognise the merits of forming a single market. However, it is not clear at present whether Asian countries, whose economic conditions are diverse, can find interests around which to create a regional community like the EU.

--- Finally, what does strategic research mean to you?
As far as I'm concerned, strategic research means policy implications based on scientific research. At IGES, there are discussions as to what constitutes strategic research. Some say that strategic research is making policy proposals based on existing research results. However, I believe that strategic research is the right method for us to employ and on which to base policy proposals. Originality is born only out of our own research.

---- Thank you very much.

- Climate Policy 2005 and Beyond - Japanese-German Impulses -, 1 November 2005, Tokyo, Japan (Ms. Watanabe's presentation "What are the implications of the German Experience in the Introduction of Emissions Trading System for Japan?" is available.)
- Commisioned work: Research on options for Japan to acquire credits from abroad
>> Report "Option Survey for Japan to acquire credits from abroad " now online
- Abstract: Rie Watanabe a and Lutz Mez. The Development of Climate Change Policy in Germany. in International Review for Environmental Strategies (IRES): The Kyoto Protocol -Its Development, Implication, and the Future Vol.5 No.1
- Climate Policy Project

Interviewers: Reiko Koyama, Megumi Yajima (Information Dissemination and Outreach Programme)
Editors: Megumi Kido, Timothy Skye (Information Dissemination and Outreach Programme)

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