- The Washington Times - Monday, July 16, 2001

The two-week conference on global warming that begins today in Bonn will shine the spotlight on a nation not accustomed to the international hot seat: Japan.
Whether Japan signs the Kyoto Protocol, which was designed to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, chiefly carbon dioxide, will determine the future of the 1997 agreement.
President Bush, saying the pact is "fatally flawed," has rejected the treaty outright. Mr. Bush acknowledged the need for action on global warming but said the current state of science does not warrant the reductions called for under the Kyoto agreement.
"The real agenda [for Bonn] is to see whether most countries will agree to proceed without the United States," said Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
The pact can take effect only if ratified by 55 countries or countries accounting for 55 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, the chief culprits in global warming. Hitting that 55 percent level will require the participation of Japan now that the United States, the world's largest emitter of greenhouse gases, has backed away from the agreement.
Environmental activists, descending on Bonn by the hundreds, hope to play on the pact's origin — Kyoto was Japan's ancient capital — to extract a sign of support from Japan.
"The Kyoto Protocol is as Japanese as apple pie is American," said Kalee Kreider, director of the global warming campaign at the National Environmental Trust.
European diplomats, for their part, have assiduously cultivated the Japanese.
Jan Pronk, the Dutch environment minister who will chair the talks in Bonn, has offered Japan the right to emit more greenhouse gases as a way to keep the Asian nation on board.
Japan so far has been ambivalent on the issue. It wants to see Kyoto succeed, but also wants to avoid a split with its close ally, the United States, observers said.
Biding her time, Japanese Environment Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said last week that Japan "has not set a deadline" for making a decision on Kyoto.
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said yesterday he wanted to keep the pact alive but saw no agreement coming from the two weeks of talks in Bonn.
"We will not be able to reach an agreement in Bonn, but there will be another meeting in Morocco in October. Japan will do its utmost so that the protocol can be enacted in 2002," he said.
"The United States, Europe and Japan are still in discussions, seeking ways in which we can cooperate, and no conclusion has been reached yet," Mr. Koizumi told TV Asahi.
"This will take until late October," he said.
As a result of Mr. Koizumi's reluctance to conclude an agreement, negotiators in Bonn will take up the thorny issues of how to implement the Kyoto Protocol. Talks on these issues broke down in The Hague in November amid a bitter dispute between the United States and European nations.
At issue was how forests that absorb greenhouse gases would affect countries' permitted emission levels, and how a proposed emission-trading system would work.
The rest of the world will also be looking nervously at the United States' reaction to decisions made in Bonn. Mr. Bush promised in May that the United States would not stand in the way of a decision by other countries to move ahead with Kyoto.
All decisions in climate change negotiations are taken by consensus.
To get the Kyoto treaty up and running, the European Union will first and foremost need Japan's support.
Europe will also need at least some support from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Norway, traditional allies of the United States.
"We have been relying on their promise to us not to obstruct the Kyoto process," Margot Wallstrom, Europe's environment commissioner, said last week.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said last week that the United States "takes climate change seriously and will work constructively" to address the problem.
Supporters of immediate action had hoped the United States would put forward a full-fledged alternative to the Kyoto treaty in Bonn. But U.S. officials said that Mr. Bush, who will attend the Group of Eight summit of Russia and the top industrial nations in Genoa, Italy, later in the week, would instead promote several new initiatives he announced last week for studying and reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Mr. Bush announced on Friday that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will spend $120 million to study climate changes. He also outlined several other existing plans to soak up carbon dioxide, a process known as sequestration.
"We have a number of initiatives that he laid out before he left for Europe that are starting to move through the system," National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice said in a White House briefing. "We will probably be able to say something about where some of those stand."
William Antholis, a former Clinton administration official who handled summit planning, said that having the Bonn meeting so close to the G-8 meeting could force Mr. Bush to discuss climate change in detail because European leaders are bound to raise the subject.
"It's a classic case of where the president of the United States will not be in charge of his own agenda," Mr. Antholis said.
Though the meetings begin today, Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs Paul Dobriansky, the chief U.S. official for climate change issues, will join the U.S. delegation to Bonn on Thursday, when high-level talks between ministers begin.

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