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Japan ratifies Kyoto pact, urges others to follow

Japan ratifies Kyoto pact, urges others to follow
TOKYO - Japan yesterday ratified the Kyoto protocol on global warming that it signed at a United Nations climate conference in 1997 and said it would urge other countries including Russia and the United States to do the same.
With Russia seen likely to comply by the end of the year, the protocol is now just one step away from coming into effect. Under the protocol, named after the Japanese city where it was signed, industrialised nations must cut emissions of greenhouse gases by an average of five percent over the period 2008-2012. Japan has pledged to cut its output by six percent. Gases such as carbon dioxide and methane are blamed for rising temperatures and changing weather patterns across the globe. Fifty-five nations producing 55 percent of the world\'s carbon dioxide emissions must ratify the pact before it becomes binding. But environmentalists said Japan might have difficulty meeting its target, saying the government has done little to promote renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. \"Japan is going to be very behind in its efforts to achieve its target without new measures,\" said Yurika Ayukawa of World Wide Fund for Nature Japan. Following the ratification at a cabinet meeting yesterday, Japan\'s foreign and environment ministers will write to countries including Russia and the United States urging them also to ratify the treaty, an environment ministry official said. But hopes that the treaty can be brought into force during the Johannesburg meeting on sustainable development starting on August 26 now seem unrealistic, the official said. U.S OUT IN THE COLD Thirty-nine nations that have signed the treaty have yet to ratify it while the United States, the biggest producer of greenhouse gases, has rejected it altogether. The pact would have required the United States to cut emissions by seven percent from 1990 levels, a condition the Bush administration argued would harm the U.S. economy. The European Union, which ratified the treaty as a bloc on Friday, took the opportunity to criticise the U.S. stance. In a government report issued on Friday, however, the administration acknowledged for the first time that U.S. greenhouse gas emissions would increase significantly over the next two decades, due mainly to human activities. It forecast that its total greenhouse gas emissions would increase 43 percent between 2000 and 2020. Story by Isabel Reynolds REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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