Kyoto Shimbun 1997.12.10

COP3 Conference Reaches Peak

The Kyoto COP3 Conference headed into the final phase on Dec. 8, with the attendance of U.S. Vice President Al Gore and Japanese Prime Minister Hashimoto, who currently hold the fate of the conference in their hands. After the meeting, many government representatives and environmental NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) criticized Prime Minister Hashimoto, who left the conference after only two hours, and expressed discouragement at Vice President Gore, who displayed a flexible stance, but only went so far as repeating the U.S. government's previously stated official position. Statements by participants included "there is only a little time left, but the conference is at a complete stalemate," and "I doubt we can reach agreement this time." The following is an overview of the events of Dec. 8, a day filled with tension and impatience.

Japan Delegation
9:45 AM
"The Kyoto conference is coming to the stage where it is necessary for governments to make the necessary political decisions. The U.S. must have some areas that it can comprise on," said Japanese Prime Minister Hashimoto during his meeting with U.S. Vice President Gore in the Guest Room at the Kyoto International Conference Hall. Mr. Hashimoto requested that Mr. Gore and the U.S. do whatever can be done to help the conference end in agreement.

11:00 AM
After giving a welcome speech to participants at the opening ceremony of the ministerial session, Prime Minister Hashimoto hurried away from the conference hall.

6:00 PM
"Since the arrival of U.S. Undersecretary of Stuart Eizenstat, the U.S. has changed its stance of absolute opposition to one of making new proposals. The U.S. is currently meeting with delegates from each country, looking for points that it can maneuver on. I think things will work out in a little while," stated Japanese Ambassador to the Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary for Global Environmental Affairs, Toshiaki Tanabe. At least Mr. Tanabe seemed convinced himself of this.

Unite States Delegation
10:30 AM
"I am instructing our delegation right now to show increased negotiating flexibility." This statement was made by Vice President Gore during a ministerial session speech, and set off quite a stir among the audience, who weren't sure of how to interpret Mr. Gore's remarks. Vice President Al Gore met with the U.S. negotiating team of about 20 delegates at a hotel near the International Conference Hall at noon. "We need to search for a way to reach agreement that takes into account the standpoint of developing nations. Today and tomorrow are the peak of negotiation," said one of the U.S. delegates after the meeting. Mr. Gore met next with the EU delegation, the Vice Prime Minister of England, Japan Environment Agency chief Oki, and various groups from developing nations.

8:30 PM
Vice President Gore held a press conference, and stated that "I am increasingly confident that we will reach agreement." Mr. Gore avoided discussing any specifics of the "increased flexibility" that was mentioned in the morning, and departed by helicopter for Kansai International Airport at 9:16 PM.

Developing Nations' Delegations
4:00 PM
"It seems that we might not reach agreement on the Kyoto Protocol during the Kyoto conference, and that the decision will be delayed until next year in Argentina. The continued existence of my island nation is dependent on the results, so I would like to return with some sort of positive results from this conference," said an understandably anxious representative of the delegation of Nauru in the South Pacific.

EU Delegation
1:45 PM
About 40 delegates from 15 countries gathered at the EU booth at the press center. This was the second joint meeting held this day. When asked by a journalist if the delegates "had ing held this day. When the Gore speech," a delegate from England responded that "we did not have any time for that."

5:00 PM
Sweden's Minister of the Environment, Anna Lindh, criticized Mr. Gore harshly during the meeting of the COP3 Committee of the Whole, saying "Vice President Gore's speech was just a lot of pretty statements that do not reflect reality."

NGO Delegations
11:30 AM
After Vice President Gore's speech, the three major international environmental NGOs made emergency announcements. "Stop wasting time with discussion that does not produce results. The U.S. has yet to make any specific promises regarding the reduction of greenhouse gases," said Greenpeace representative Jennifer Morgan.

2:15 PM
Twenty-six representatives from 18 countries which belong to the Friends of the Earth gathered in front of the International Conference Hall, who waved flags displaying a red drawing of the earth in an appeal expressing the dangers of the greenhouse effect. "We want the ministers from each country to take to heart the wishes of the people of the earth, and come to agreement on a clear course of action to prevent global warming."

3:05 PM
Mie Asaoka of the Climate Forum held a press conference. She criticized Japan and the U.S. severely, saying "the fact that the conference is still floating around without any direction at this late point in the game is the fault of Japan, the host country, and the United States. Prime Minister Hashimoto's speech was just a bunch of boasting about what has been done in the past. A positive stance on the reduction of gas emissions was nowhere to be seen."