CLIMATE change and its adverse impacts on Pacific island countries are again going to feature prominently in the agenda of the seventh Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting (PALM7) that opens in Japan on Friday.
This summit, an initiative of the Japanese government some 17 years ago, brings together island leaders to have face-to-face dialogue with the Japanese prime minister.
Deputy Prime Minister Douglas Ete is attending the summit for Solomon Islands after Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare could not make it.
Japan is a world leader in the fight to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion, which is a major contributor to changes in the climate.
Island countries are at greater risks than anyone else when it comes to climate change.
And Japan, which sees itself as an island of the Pacific Ocean, is hugely concern.
Japan’s Director of Climate Change Division in its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Junya Nakano, underscored the seriousness of the issue ahead of the PALM7 opening.
“Climate change has caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans,” Mr Nakano told a group of news editors and senior writers from the Pacific in Tokyo this week.
“There are risks resulting from sea level rise, storm surge in coastal areas, and inland flooding in urban regions,” he added.
“Japan will bring together the knowledge of the private sector, government and academia, and consistently assist developing countries’ adaptation actions both in terms of their plans and implementation,” Mr Nakano said.
Between January 2013 and June 2014, Japan’s financial assistance to developing countries such as Pacific islands states in the field of climate change adaptation stands at approximately USD$2.3 billion (approximately SBD$17 billion).
Prior to that from 2010 to 2012, Japan expended US$13.5 billion on climate change adaptation programmes in developing countries.
That, according to Mr Nakano, was a demonstration of Japan’s seriousness to tackling climate change.
Using the funding, Japan assisted in mainstreaming of adaptation through formulation of national/local adaptation plans in developing countries such as Solomon Islands, which are vulnerable to climate change, based upon Japan’s own experience in formulating its National Adaptation Plan.
Measures include assistance in various adaptation efforts against climate change risks from extreme weather events and slow onset events, example water resource/disaster risk reduction and natural environment/biodiversity.
“When it comes to vulnerabilities particular to small island states, Japan’s adaptation will include providing comprehensive assistance by sharing Japan’s experience and knowledge and providing necessary equipment,” Mr Nakano explained.
“There is also a wide area capacity development for climate change and natural disaster.
Adopted in 1992, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) aims to stabilise the green house gas concentration in the atmosphere, develop a national inventory of greenhouse gas emissions and formulate a national programme to mitigate climate change.
“As a developed country, Japan is committed to report on policies and measures to reduce emissions to 1990 levels and provide financial resources, etc,” Mr Nakano added.
He noted too that developed countries should have reduced their overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least five per cent below 1990 levels in five years, from 2008 to 2012 (first commitment period) and further reduction should take place during the second commitment period (CP2) set from 2013 to 2020.
China is currently the largest emitter with 25 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emission, with US second, and India third.
In the CP1 Commitment, Japan reduced its GHG emission by six per cent.
“Japan’s new emission reduction target for 2020 is 3.8 per cent reduction compared with 2005.
“This target has been formulated as a target at the present moment, not taking into account the emission reduction effect resulting from nuclear power, given that the energy policy and energy mix, including the utilisation of nuclear power, are still under consideration.”
However, a firm target will eventually be set based on further review of the energy policy and energy mix.
At the UN Climate change summit in September 2014, heads of states and governments announced positive, new, and ambitious actions for building a low carbon society.
Mr Nakano explained that Japan provided US$13.5 billion to developing countries in a three-year period from 2010 to 2012, having already implemented approximately US$13.9 billion (public finance) in the period from January 2013 to June 2014.
Japan also has an action plan for achieving a Cool Earth.
“In the area of technological innovation and diffusion, Japan hosted the first conference of the innovation of Cool Earth forum, ICEF, in Tokyo (October 8, 2014), and established an energy- efficiency facilitating hub for global action in Tokyo,” Mr Nakano said.
He added Japan will have a satellite that will monitor and verify GHG emissions, and mutually utilise its data at the global level.
As climate change continues to pose serious risks for island states, Pacific leaders will be looking to Japan for leadership.
Today’s summit offers them the opportunity not only to thank Japan, but also to share their climate change stories close up with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.