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Editorial: Japan should push for early implementation of Paris Agreement

A ceremony was held at the U.N. headquarters in New York on April 22 to sign the Paris Agreement, a new framework for countermeasures against global warming, which replaces the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. It was the largest international treaty signing ceremony in history with the participation of representatives from 175 countries and territories -- including the United States and China that emit the world's largest amounts of greenhouse gases, as well as Japan. The signatories have thus shown their enthusiasm about making the pact come into force at an early date.

April 22 is designated as Earth Day when global citizens are supposed to think about the global environment. A wide variety of environmental protection-related events were held on April 22 this year. The Paris Agreement was one of the themes in these events, allowing numerous members of the international community to be aware of the significance of the pact.

The Paris Agreement was adopted at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change held at the end of last year. The accord set a goal of effectively eliminating greenhouse gas emissions by the end of the current century in order to keep an increase in the global temperature to below 2 degrees from the pre-industrial revolution period. The agreement mandates all the parties to voluntarily set their own numerical targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and implement specific measures to achieve their goals. Each party is also supposed to review their goals every five years and verify the progress made on reductions in greenhouse gas emissions on a global scale.

Signing the agreement means approving its content. Each signatory is set to initiate the procedure for ratifying the pact.

The agreement will come into force on condition that at least 55 of the signatories ratify the accord and that the volume of greenhouse gas emissions by countries that have ratified the accord account for at least 55 percent of global emissions. The United States and China, whose greenhouse gas emissions account for 40 percent of global emissions, are key to the ratification.

At their bilateral summit talks this past March, the two countries issued a joint statement declaring that they will complete their domestic procedures for ratifying the agreement as early as possible within this year. The two countries should keep their promises.

The combined goals of cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions, which the parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change submitted in time for the COP21, are not sufficient to achieve the goal of limiting an increase in the global temperature to less than 2 degrees. Global warming has an impact on the global climate, such as the frequent occurrence of abnormal weather. It is vital for the parties to launch a new system at an early date to raise their goals of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by making sure that the Paris Agreement comes into force.

Tokyo has set a goal of cutting its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent from 2013 levels by 2030. The Cabinet of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to adopt a plan at an early date on countermeasures against global warming designed to achieve this goal, paving the way for ratification.

Japan, which accounts for approximately 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, should swiftly go through procedures for ratifying the Paris Agreement to help the pact come into force early.

Japan will chair the Group of Seven summit to be held in Ise-Shima, Mie Prefecture, this coming May. Prime Minister Abe has stated that he will lead the international community so that major countries reduce their emissions commensurate with their capacities.

If developed countries' ratification of the Paris Agreement is to be delayed, it could throw cold water on efforts being made by emerging countries, such as India and Brazil, to that end. At the upcoming G-7 summit, Japan and other member countries should convince the international community of the need to have the accord come into force at an early date.

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