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Japan's responsibility for the global environment (September 1997)



A powerful role can be played by the private sector in industrialized countries like Japan, as a source of innovation and action in promoting market-based climate protection policies and mechanisms.

Contribution to Japan's Responsibility for the Global Environment by Maurice F. Strong Chairman, Earth Council

Japan has set a high standard for itself with regard to matters of the global environment. In both the pre-and post-Earth Summit eras, Japan has played an important ' part in ensuring that the world's attention continues to focus on the environment and development issues which were popularized at Rio. Evidence of Japan's commitment include hosting the "Eminent Persons Meeting on Financing Global Environment and Development" in March, 1992 just prior to the Earth Summit, and the "Tokyo Conference on Global Environmental Action" in October 1994 as a follow up of the Earth Summit.

In recent years, the establishment of a Japan Council for Sustainable Development, Keidanren's Environmental Appeal, its industry-wide Voluntary Environmental Action Plans and the Environment Summit of Designated Cities at Kitakyushu City in January of this year, all evidence the continued commitment and leadership of Japan in the field of environment.

The Basic Environment Law enacted in November 1993 by Japan is one of the most important and progressive pieces of environment legislation adopted since Rio by any country, supplemented in 1996 by the strengthening of the air pollution and water pollution control laws and a number of other measures.

Japan will have a special opportunity to manifest its leadership in the single-most important environment issue, that of climate change, when it hosts a meeting of the parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change in Kyoto later this year. This leadership by Japan is necessary - and it is expected.

I believe that a powerful role can be played by the private sector in industrialized countries like Japan, as a source of innovation and action in promoting market-based climate protection policies and mechanisms. Although these tools cannot substitute for domestic efforts to reduce pollution, I strongly believe that we need to give greater recognition to the full range of market mechanisms which can provide the needed flexibility to meet commitments under the FCCC. As one of the most energy efficient advanced economies in the world, Japan bas much to offer in terms of transferring relevant skills and technologies to address this critical challenge.

I commend Japan for maintaining its commitment to the environment, especially recently as the Japanese economy has been subjected to a difficult period of adjustment. very much hope that Japan will continue to champion environmental causes, and that the Kyoto meeting will provide the basis for even stronger and more determined leadership by Japan in the future.