The 49th Session of the IPCC was held at Kyoto International Conference Center in Kyoto City on May 8-12. The IPCC, founded in 1988 by the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), is the UN body which aims to assess climate change from the scientific, technological and socioeconomic viewpoints. About 400 representatives from 125 countries, who were mostly government officials and scientists concerned with climate change issues, participated in the session. I gave them a greeting through a video message at the opening ceremony on May 8. On May 12, the Session adopted the Overview Chapter of the 2019 Refinement to the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories under some conditions. (Please refer to: http://enb.iisd.org/climate/ipcc49/)
I attended the symposium titled, ‘Toward the Realization of a Decarbonized Society – the Current Situation of the World and Kyoto’s Challenges – which was held at Kyoto International Conference Center on May 11 under the sponsorship of Kyoto City commemorating the 49th Session of the IPCC.
With regard to climate change and global warming, the Paris Agreement, adopted in 2015, aimed at keeping an average annual global temperature rise in the 21th century below 2°C above pre-industrial levels in the 19th century and pursuing efforts to limit it even further to 1.5°C. Since then, the question whether ‘below 2°C’ is enough for preventing global warming or ‘below 1.5°C’ is required for the purpose has been debated among member countries of the IPCC.
In order to make the best effort to achieve the targets of a temperature rise set by the Paris Agreement, Japan has been aiming to achieve 80% reduction of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 as a long-term target. However, at this symposium, Mr. Daisaku Kadokawa, Mayor of Kyoto City, announced the ‘Kyoto Appeal’ declaring that “Kyoto City will pursue all necessary measures and advance concrete actions towards ‘net zero’ carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 in order to keep the global average temperature rise below 1.5°C.” In response, I said, “Although the target of ‘net zero’ is an extremely high target and a challenging goal to achieve, I will consider this target seriously on behalf of the government.” My comment received a lot of applause from the participants. Subsequently, I continued my speech as follows:
“It is well-known that the ‘Kyoto Protocol’, which set legally binding targets for reducing Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions on Climate Change, was adopted at the Third Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP3) held in Kyoto in 1997, and consolidated the basis for the environmental policies in the following years. I believe that such features of Kyoto as a long history of an ancient capital, old traditions, beautiful natural environment, and the citizens’ diligence contributed to the success of COP3 and its adoption of ‘Kyoto Protocol’. It is significant not only to Japan but also to other countries in the world that a new environmental policy, ‘Kyoto Appeal’, following the ‘Kyoto Protocol’ declared in 1997, has been announced again in Kyoto. Furthermore, the Appeal was announced at the very beginning of Japan’s new era ‘Reiwa’ which started on May 1, 2019, and at Kyoto International Conference Center, the same venue where the ‘Kyoto Protocol’ was declared 22 years ago. I am convinced that this ‘Kyoto Appeal’ will surely contribute to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).