Japan's PM looks beyond Kyoto

Read time: 2 mins

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has proposed a new international framework that would see worldwide carbon emissions cut in half by 2050.

Prime Minister Abe is getting a little unfair criticism for being short on details of what the final emission targets of his plan will look like. But Abe is right in his diplomatic obfuscation (for now), these are early days and a new international framework will have to take pains to ensure that it is embraced by the United States, who opted not to be part of the Kyoto Protocol. 

To date the only international plan the US has shown any comfort with is the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development on Climate (AP6). And no wonder, unlike the Kyoto Protocol, the AP6 is toothless leaving it up to the member countries to decide on their own non-binding emission reduction targets. 

These are different times though, US industry and governments at the state and municipal level are waking up to the realities of global warming and are noting that it no longer makes political or business sense to be on the wrong side of this issue. Indeed, any new Kyoto-like agreement will take a whole lot of diplomatic pussy-footing to get the US on board.

However,  this time around any bold moves by the US to water down or run away from an agreement will be met with a heck of a lot more opposition than support.

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The problem with 50% by 2050 is that it’s not enough. As has been discussed in many places recently, something more on the order of 80% by then will be needed to keep global average temperature from exceeding the “dangerous” level of 2 degrees C above pre-industrial.