Kyoto Shimbun 1997.12.1

Opening of the Kyoto COP3 Conference

the Kyoto International Conference Hall in Sakyo ward
The 3rd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP3) got underway on December 1 at the Kyoto International Conference Hall in Sakyo ward, Kyoto city, Japan.

Representatives from 168 countries and one territory have assembled for the conference to search for solutions to global warming, one of the major problems facing the 21st century. The world is watching the conference with heated interest to see if the conference will result in the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol. This protocol surpasses the often opposing interests of the many nations of the world, aiming to reduce greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide, that cause global warming.

The first half of the conference, from December 1 to 5, will consist of discussions at the preliminary level. The second half of the conference will begin on Monday, December 8, during which cabinets from a number of countries will hold high-level talks.

In discussions thus far, the European Union (EU) has set a goal of a 15% reduction in greenhouse gasses by the year 2010, Japan a goal of 5%(2.5% reduction achieved to date) reduction, and the U.S. a goal of zero-reduction. This is a major difference in target reductions, and while the EU appears to be somewhat flexible with its goals, expectations are that it will be quite difficult to form a common policy for reduction goals.

There are many unresolved problems with technologies needed to set reduction goals, such as the system of handling emission rights and considerations related to forests and other sources of carbon dioxide absorption. As such, debates are expected to start heating up while the conference is still at the business level.