Global warming poses one of the most serious threats to humankind. Nearly all of the world's most respected scientists have called on governments
around the world to take serious preventative action. Though we do not know exactly how climate change will manifest itself, we do know that it is
occurring and that it is likely to bring catastrophic results. Our civilization must learn to curb our emissions of greenhouse gases or a climate
crisis will force radical and perhaps impossible choices upon us within 50 to 100 years - or rather upon our grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
This is a legacy we should avoid.
Now our governments are preparing to meet and negotiate an agreement in Kyoto. According to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,
the final objective of the treaty is the 'stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous
anthropogenic interference with the climate system.' Very few countries actually disagree with
Finding common ground
This does not mean, however, that making an agreement in Kyoto and implementing consequent actions will be an easy task. Quite the contrary. Developed
countries are afraid that such actions will disturb their current economic prosperity and developing countries are expressing little enthusiasm for an
agreement that could impede their economic growth. Finding a common ground is extremely difficult under these circumstances.
Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto of Japan spoke at the special session of the United Nations General Assembly for review of the implementation of
Agenda 21, last June, saying that 'at a minimum, atmospheric concentrations of CO2 must be lowered by the year 2100 to levels roughly double those
prior to the industrial revolution'. To do this, average per capita CO2 emissions must be kept at less than 1 tonne: statistics show that per capita
omissions in developed countries are currently at the level of approximately
3.6 tonnes. Achieving economic growth at the same time as a reduction of emissions is a difficult task requiring the concrete action of nations. We
will require a series of new social and technological breakthroughs.
Japan has been implementing programmes that raise citizen awareness of global warming and help families find ways to save energy in daily life. At the
corporate level, I am confident that safer and more efficient ways of producing and using energy will be developed. To encourage changes at the
individual and corporate levels, governments will have to consider a whole array of policies and new financial incentives. Environmentally friendly
energy options have to be available for developing countries if the CO2 savings of developed countries are not to be exhausted by the expanding energy
consumption of developing economies. It is for this reason that Japan advocated a new Green Initiative at the special session of the United Nations.
Under this programme, Green Technology and Green Aid will be extended to the countries that need them most.
Before we can go further, we must reach a meaningful, realistic and equitable agreement at the Kyoto Conference. The agenda is clear. We must agree on
quantified reduction targets. In addition, we must consider policy measures that can be employed in achieving these reduction targets. We must also
address the future participation of developing countries in our common effort to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
I welcome you all to Kyoto, the centre of Japanese history and culture. Moved by the seriousness of the problem before us, we can make this Kyoto
Conference the site of our first historical step in reducing greenhouse gases and stopping global warming.
On behalf of my country, I pledge to give all my energy to this effort so that we may reach our goals. Let us shape an agreement which bequeaths a
beautiful and bountiful planet to our children and all generations to follow.