TOKYO – Greenpeace asked the G20 group on Monday for more ambitious measures to ease the effects of climate change and to curb marine pollution ahead of the group’s summit in Osaka, western Japan, next week.
The environmental organization said the commitments reached on these issues at the meeting of environment and energy ministers from the G20 countries held on June 15-16 in Karuizawa were insufficient and vague, Greenpeace Japan experts told EFE.
In a joint declaration adopted during the meeting, the G20 ministers agreed to create a framework for action with voluntary measures to reduce marine pollution and reaffirmed the commitments made under the Paris Agreement to combat climate change.
“Voluntary actions are not enough to deal with such an urgent problem,” warned Hiroaki Odachi of Greenpeace Japan, as he demanded “clear and mandatory actions.”
Ocean rubbish “is a matter requiring urgent action given its adverse impacts on marine ecosystems, livelihoods ... and potentially on human health,” said a statement issued after the two-day meeting in the central Japanese resort town of Karuizawa.
The government of Japan, which is the current chair of the G20, described the agreement as “a major achievement” and has recently launched several initiatives aimed at “exercising leadership” to tackle the pressing problem of ocean pollution, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.
These include the development of biodegradable materials and the promotion of recycling, and also requires retailers to charge customers for plastic bags from April 2020, while calling for an increased use of bioplastics made of renewable resources such as plants.
Greenpeace said “these are positive developments, but could eventually generate side effects, and they don’t deal with the underlying problem.” It added that it would be more appropriate to end the “linear, throwaway destructive business model.”
Japan is the world’s second-largest generator of plastic waste per capita after the United States, according to the United Nations.
In 2018, it was the second-largest exporter of plastic waste, according to another Greenpeace report.
The environmental organization also urged Tokyo to “show real leadership” and take much more ambitious measures at the national level while pushing for a meaningful agreement within the framework of the G20 that goes in the direction of what was agreed to in Paris in 2016.
Japan relies on fossil fuels for most its energy generation, out of which coal accounts for 32 percent, a figure the government hopes to reduce to 26 percent by 2030.
Japan is the only country in the G7 (the seven most industrialized nations) that continues to build coal plants and does not plan to get rid of them as recommended by the Paris Agreement, Greenpeace said.