Magazine article UN Chronicle

Concerted Global Efforts Needed

Magazine article UN Chronicle

Concerted Global Efforts Needed

Article excerpt

Present global environmental problems are a challenge for all of humanity and, without concerted global action through the persistent efforts of all countries, it is clear we cannot hope for effective results in limiting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which is the most crucial task before us.

Surely, except for hateful persons or misanthropes, everyone concurs with the hope that concerted global efforts will bring about a twenty-first century in which our home - the Earth - will still be, as astronauts always describe it, a beautiful blue shining planet, where our descendants will be able to live in peace.

In December 1997, Japan's beautiful ancient capital of Kyoto hosted the Third Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP3), which adopted the Kyoto Declaration (the Kyoto Protocol), the first step toward solving global environmental problems in the twenty-first century.

Day after day, the Japanese media reported on the continual heated arguments, confrontations and mediation that led to the Protocol's adoption. While one would expect to find nobody who is opposed to "a blue Earth and a life of peace", COP3 participants no doubt became painfully aware of how difficult it is to obtain agreement when getting down to the spicifics regarding environmental issues.

In the final analysis, it is said, protecting our blue Earth, for individuals, consists in sparing no effort to protect the environment even if we have to put up with some inconveniences in our daily lives and, for businesses, it means showing consideration for the environment, either by slowing the pace of economic activity or even shouldering costs.

Looking back over my own life, when I was a young student, about 35 years ago, in Japan's capital of Tokyo, there was no central heating and even in midsummer there was no air conditioning. In those days, Japan had already embarked energetically on the path towards economic growth, but when you got up in cold wintertime there was no hot water to wash your face, so you did it quickly and simply, and, of course, we didn't have hot showers or anything like that. I remember that riding on jammed commuter trains in midsummer made one sweat, the same as when in the saunas I use these days. In my case, energy consumption back then was one tenth that of now, or even less. …

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