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 (November 2010)
Interview Prior to COP16: the Way Forward, Post-Kyoto

Jusen Asuka
IGES Climate Change Group

Graduating from the University of Tokyo (PhD), Prof. Asuka joined IGES in April 2010.
Environmental and energy issues in Northeast Asia, especially in East Asia, where economic development is currently proceeding at a dramatic pace, is the focus of his work. Examining these issues in broad as well as multidimensional perspective, he seeks to clarify not only the historical process by which they emerged and the circumstances they involve today, but also what forms of international cooperation are feasible for dealing with them. In particular, he employs the perspectives of political science, economics, sociology, and other social sciences to develop recommendations for treaties and protocols as well as for environmental taxation, emissions trading, and other specific domestic and international policies and measures designed to deal with problems such as global warming that lie beyond the power of any one country to solve.

---- What should be the focus of negotiations post-Kyoto?

In 2012, the first commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol will come to an end, and there will be major questions on how to go forward with the international framework after that. As a solution to this, it appears there are three main scenarios.

First of all, Plan A features a scenario whereby a new protocol is decided to replace Kyoto, and all countries, including developed nations, are legally bound to uphold the terms of this protocol. There is also Plan B, which sees the current Kyoto Protocol being extended, with developed countries (excluding the US) following the aims of the second commitment period. The remaining countries (the US and developing countries) would then have some kind of legally binding aim under a separate framework. Finally, there is the seemingly chaotic Plan C, in which no new agreement is made on an international framework, but each country follows its own individual framework.

Japan and Russia are advocating Plan A, but the fact is it will be difficult for the US and developing countries to enter into a new legally-binding framework like other developed nations. On the other hand, Plan C is undesirable in terms of an effective measure against global warming. So in the end, if there is no authority or responsibility that is legally binding or mandatory, then each country will only do what it can/the bare minimum, and it will be virtually impossible to meet warming targets, such as the "2 degree target" which keeps temperature rises within 2 degrees centigrade from pre-industrial levels.

I personally think that the question is how to create a soft landing for this Plan B scenario. We need to come up with creative ideas, such as a flexible interpretation of legally-binding force.


---- Please tell us about the movements of those countries holding the key to negotiations, such as the US, China and India.

- US
In the mid-term elections held recently in the US, the Republican Party made advances, and there is now believed to be a near-zero chance of a global warming bill being passed in the next two or three years. Of course, the US Environmental Protection Agency employs the Clean Air Act and sets its own regulations on measures to combat global warming. However, it is still unclear as to how effective these actions are. There certainly is the impression that, on a federal level, things are going backwards, but there have been movements in California and some states in the East, to introduce emissions trading at the state level. Particular attention has been focused on an emissions trading scheme in the West of the US, led by California and observed by some states from Canada and Mexico.

- China
Even though China brought out numerical targets before the Copenhagen conference last year, the country seemed to be displeased when the international community did not seem to show sufficient recognition of this action. In short, China slightly lost its impetus to act, in the face of a lukewarm reception to its hard work. In the short-term, it seems there is little possibility of a further announcement setting stricter numerical targets. However, measures against global warming are basically energy policies, and China is progressing positively by introducing renewable energy and promoting energy-saving, for reasons of energy security, cost reduction, increased productivity and competitiveness, and air pollution reduction. This year is the final year of the 11th 5-year Plan that ran from 2005 to 2010, and in order to achieve its goal of reducing energy consumption per unit of GDP by 20% over 5 years, there were regions and industries where electricity was cut deliberately. Authorities and researchers responded critically, saying that such inefficient actions as deliberate electricity stoppages should not be taken just to achieve the targets. However, such actions go to prove that China as a whole seems to be making enormous efforts to achieve its targets.

- India
India too has rejected international (meaning, legally-binding) commitments but has made positive progress domestically with regards to energy-saving. One point of interest is the PAT (Perform Achieve Trade) system, whereby unit targets are set in the industrial sector, and any excess savings beyond the baseline can be sold as credit. This can be called a type of emissions trading, and it is possible it can be developed into the Sectoral Crediting Mechanism, which the EU and Japan is asking developing countries to follow.


---- What can we expect from COP16?

If I am being honest, I would say that I do not hold many expectations. What I mean is, there are so many controversial points between developed and developing countries, and the momentum is weaker than it was last year in Copenhagen to reach political consensus as a package. However, there is hope for negotiations to reach an agreement for some selected points with lesser contention. A final legally-binding agreement might then come to fruition in South Africa, at COP17.

At this point in time, I can fully understand why Japan is sticking to Plan A, the scenario described above, in which all countries including developed countries are legally-bound to uphold the commitments under a new protocol. I do however think that the time has come to start considering what it would mean to Japan and the international community to adhere to Plan A, and concurrently, what implications Plans B and C would have.

---- Thank you

IGES' Activities at the UNFCCC COP16 and CMP6
The IGES Climate Change (CC) Group website

Interviewers: Megumi Kido (Research Supporting Section)

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