NGOs: Japan is 'fossil' for rejecting Kyoto

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Japan won the "Fossil of the Day" award on Tuesday on the second day of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico.

It was selected as the recipient for the "dubious distinction" prize by the Climate Action Network (CAN) after Japan on Monday voiced its opposition to a continuation of the Kyoto Protocol.

CAN is a worldwide network of more than 500 non-governmental organizations working to advocate governmental and individual action to limit human-induced climate change, while promoting ecological sustainability. Its members gave Japan the award as a strong criticism for its attempt to kill the Kyoto Protocol.

The protocol to the United Nations climate convention was agreed to in Japan's own city of Kyoto in 1997.

Some developed countries such as Japan are unwilling to continue the second stage of the Kyoto Protocol, thus preventing the only available mechanism to cut global carbon emissions from becoming a legally binding treaty after the first stage expires in 2012.

Observers say the move could prove destructive to progress at the ongoing Cancun climate conference.

"As a developed country, Japan has the obligation to take the lead in dramatically slashing its carbon emissions," said Yang Ailun, a climate campaigner with Greenpeace China.

Japan has bluntly announced it would not sign up to a second commitment period of the protocol, because the world's top two emitters - the United States, the only industrialized country that did not ratify the protocol, and China, a developing country - are exempted from compliance to reduce carbon emissions.

"It is irresponsible to use the domestic inaction in United States as an excuse to escape its obligation, and equally wrong to use China - a developing country - as a scapegoat," said Yang.

"It's now up to Japanese government to make decision, because the European Union has sent out a clear signal that they're willing to move forward with the Kyoto Protocol," Tove Ryding, a climate policy adviser with Greenpeace International, told China Daily.

"Countries should stick by the rules we already have, and improve them. The way forward is not to abandon the system that took 10 years to develop and get back to zero," Tove said.

"When leadership was needed most, the home country of the Kyoto Protocol made a destructive statement" during Monday's plenary session of the working group on the Kyoto Protocol, said a statement on the CAN website.

"Preferring a single-treaty approach is one thing, but aggressively denying the future of Kyoto in opening plenary is another," CAN's statement also said.

"Japan's move is most unwelcome" because "the statement upset many parties and created an unconstructive atmosphere for the negotiations", the statement added.

The Fossil of the Day awards were first presented at the 1999 Bonn climate talks, and given by the German NGO Forum.

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