G8 Environment Ministers’ Meeting in Kobe

An update from Dogwood summer intern, Yishan…

More and more, our problems in the face of global warming
are garnering international political recognition. Environment Ministers of the
G8 countries, along with the European Commissioner on the Environment, convened
last weekend (May 24th – May 26th) in Kobe, Japan as part
of the run-up to the G8 Summit in July (July 7-9 in Hakkaido). Environment
ministers from 10 developing countries including China,
India and Brazil along
with people from 8 international organizations were also invited to attend.


Discussion of “The Kobe Initiative” revolved around three
major themes: climate change, biodiversity and the 3Rs (Reduce, Reuse and
Recycle). With regards to a low-carbon society, the group expressed “strong
political will” to go beyond the 2007 G8 Summit goal of halving emissions by
2050, but recognized the need for sound leadership and commitment from
developed nations. Various incentives to change the social infrastructure and
ways to set a price on carbon (carbon offsetting, emissions trading, tax
incentives, consumer labeling) were thought to be best implemented in a
country-specific manner to prevent leakage. Additionally, the need for green
technologies and further research spawned the idea to form an international
research network. This proposal found support in a number of nations including
the UK and Italy, who will
be hosting research network meetings later this year and next spring.


Agreement was established to provide developing nations financial
support from developed countries: a technology transfer fund, best practices
maps and tools to identify co-benefit generating projects, improvements upon
CDM (Clean Development Mechanism, part of the Kyoto Protocol), etc. Targeted
areas of improvement included forest conservation, pollution control and the


The importance of biodiversity and the 3Rs were reaffirmed
and encouraged, although it could not be determined from the Chair’s Summary
whether or not new initiatives had been established to further these goals.
Deforestation was highlighted as a leading factor in biodiversity loss and GHG
emission, and the merits of involving the private sector in conservation and
connecting biodiversity with climate change were discussed. Potential future market-based
strategies and regulations addressed the full product life-cycle. There was
additional emphasis placed on waste reduction—Japan, China and the Republic of
Korea are jointly curtailing the use of disposable plastic bags and encourage
other nations to do so as well—a feat necessitating fundamental lifestyle


The G8 Environment Ministers examined many facets of today’s
environmental issues. To me, it seemed that the items in the Chair’s Summary
spent more time “recognizing the importance of” or “calling attention to”
problems rather than proposing real, substantial solutions. However, that may
be the nature of this meeting, and hopefully, steps will be taken at the G8
Summit in July to move forward in saving our planet. Further details can be
found at: http://www.env.go.jp/earth/g8/en/


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