SINGAPORE, August 15 -- The outside world can do little to assure the future of freedom in Hong Kong beyond making the case that preserving the principles of liberty are at stake.
Nevertheless, the plight of that territory’s more than 7 million souls can teach us an important lesson about what China has in mind for the rest of the world. It is not good. For starters, the continuing protests speak volumes about China’s commitment to “one country, two systems.” When the British transferred sovereignty over Hong Kong to China in 1997, Beijing agreed to this arrangement. It guaranteed that Hong Kong would be allowed to maintain its own governance and economic system.
The Hong Kong system—one of great economic freedom—has produced tremendous economic success. But economic freedom is no more popular than political freedom among the Chinese Communist Party. And in recent years, Chinese authorities have been encroaching on the rights supposedly guaranteed to the people of Hong Kong under the “one country, two systems” agreement.
Matters came to a head this April, when the Hong Kong government, under heavy pressure from Beijing, introduced legislation that would allow people accused of crimes against mainland China to be extradited. The proposal set off alarms among residents who know well that the mainland’s thoroughly politicized legal system is not to be trusted. Fear that Beijing would quickly weaponize the proposed law to target democracy activists and journalists sparked massive protests. Efforts to suppress the demonstrations have only ignited more public demonstrations. The protests also tell us a lot about mainland China. There is one strain of thought that Beijing, while quite happy to bully Hong Kong, would not be so rash as to put down the protests with harsh military action. That kind of response repulsed the world when the Soviets did it, ultimately leading to the break-up of the USSR.
Yet many observers fear that Beijing will step in and crack down on the demonstrators. After all, they note, the USSR’s demise didn’t stop the People’s Army from rolling tanks into Tienanmen Square. There is no question that Beijing is waging a war on nerves. Last month, it assembled troops and equipment along the border with Hong Kong. It’s also begun airing footage of troops training for suppressing riots in urban settings. This all speaks volumes about the callous cynicism with which the Chinese government treats its own people. The Hong Kong police are already doing Beijing’s dirty work for them (helped, to be fair, by protesters and agitators who have crossed the line and become violent or destructive). As long as “pro-democracy” demonstrations don’t spread to the mainland cities, Beijing might not be too concerned to see Hong Kong’s stature as a stable and dependable place to do business diminished. Hong Kong just doesn’t mean near as much to the Chinese economy as it did 20 years ago. Besides, the Chinese would rather see investment flow to mainland cities like Guangzhou and Shanghai that are more firmly under the regime’s control. As for the welfare and future of the people of Hong Kong, that is the last thing Beijing cares about. Most mainland Chinese seem indifferent about the protests. Many are jealous of the privileges long enjoyed by the people of Hong Kong. Rather than press for similar freedoms, they are happy to see the islanders brought down a notch. This is yet more evidence that the hope that opening up China to the world would encourage Beijing to integrate smoothly into an equitable and liberal rules-based order is little more than magical thinking.
Finally, there are lessons for the rest of us. China’s encroachment on Hong Kong represents yet another in a long string of promises broken by the communist regime. It has violated its commitments to U.N. Convention on the Law Seas, violated U.N. sanctions (which it voted for) against North Korea, and delivered debt and corruption, rather than the promised prosperity, through its vaunted Belt and Road economic “initiative.” In sum, Beijing has a well-deserved rep for playing fast and loose with the rules as it tries to bully its way to the top—and its actions with Hong Kong only reinforce that reputation. Nothing reflects the contemptuous attitude of the Chinese more than their prosperous propaganda claim that the Hong Kong demonstrations were engineered by the CIA. They know no right-thinking person in the world would believe this, but they don’t care. They know that the people of China will accept this explanation (after all, they’ll hear no other), and that’s all they want. China is acting like a global bully. Like most bullies, it will continue to do so until the world stops tolerating Beijing’s intolerable behavior.
Hong Kong is a warning to the world. The world should take notice!
SEOUL, August 10 -- North Korea has fired two unidentified projectiles into the sea off eastern coast on Saturday, Yonhap news agency reported citing South Korea's military.
South Korea's defense ministry said it is closely following the developments. No further details are available at this point. On August 6, North Korea launched new guided missiles under the supervision of leader Kim Jong-un. The two missiles flew around 450 km and struck targets in the Sea of Japan. After test launches, Kim Jong-un said that this was "a warning over joint military drills" held by South Korea and the United States. On August 5, the United States and South Korea started joint military drills. According to preliminary reports, the military exercise will last until August 20.
"This is a serious issue for the international community," Japanese Senior Vice Defense Minister Kenji Harada told reporters after the launches. North Korea's missile launch would constitute a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions banning the country from using ballistic technology. South Korean military officials and the defense minister held an emergency meeting after the latest launches and took them to be another warning against a South Korea-U.S. joint military drill that started from Monday and runs through late this month. The North's official Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday that its launches a day earlier were a "warning" to the United States and South Korea over their ongoing joint military exercises. U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday he received a "beautiful" letter from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in which he said he does not like conducting the short-range ballistic missile tests North Korea has been doing in recent weeks but justified the move as a response to the U.S.-South Korea drills. The U.S. president said on Aug. 1 he was not worried about the missiles being tested by the North, calling them "very standard," short-range devices. "Short-range missiles, we never made an agreement on that. I have no problem. We'll see what happens," Trump told reporters after North Korea carried out a series of missile launches. South Korean and U.S authorities are currently working on identifying the exact type of the projectiles, said the JCS, while warning that additional launches are highly likely as North Korea is now conducting summer military drills. The Japanese government said Saturday that it has not confirmed any ballistic missiles flying into Japan's exclusive economic zone and that the projectiles posed no immediate security threat. Even so, "we will strengthen our air and missile defense capabilities," Harada said.
NEW YORK, August 8 -- Islamic State is reinvesting in its ability to carry out sophisticated operations from Europe to South Asia by the end of 2019, a United Nations report has found.
“The ISIS covert network in the Syrian Arab Republic is spreading, and cells are being established at the provincial level, mirroring that which has been happening since 2017 in Iraq,” the UN Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team said. In the near term, the Islamic State will rely on locally-planned attacks in “unexpected locations,” similar to the Easter bombings carried out in Sri Lanka, they assessed. But the report, presented to the Security Council in July, warns that externally-planned attacks in high profile locations could ramp up as early as four months from now. “ISIS will reinvest in the capacity to direct and facilitate complex international attacks when it has the secure space and time to do so. The current abatement of such attacks, therefore, may not last long, possibly not even until the end of 2019,” it said. Tens of thousands of Islamic State loyalists and their children are now corralled in desert camps in northeastern Syria, where they were detained by US-backed Kurdish forces following the surrender of the last pocket of the caliphate in March. Neighboring Turkey has now threatened to seize the area from the Kurds – raising the possibility that some of Islamic State’s most hardcore members could escape.
Get out of jail
The UN report estimates that up to 30,000 foreign nationals who traveled to Syria and Iraq to join the caliphate are still alive, whether at large in the region, detained or relocated to Europe. These caliphate veterans now pose a radicalization threat, whether in prison or out. “The radicalization of criminals within the prison system remains a critical concern in Europe, where prisons provide a venue for inmates afflicted by poverty, marginalization, frustration, low self-esteem and violence to be influenced by radical ideologies,” it said. “In addition, some of the first wave of returnees from the ‘caliphate’ to be imprisoned are expected to be released in the coming year.” The monitoring team which carried out the report emphasized that data on the exact number of repatriations of foreign fighters to Europe and other regions remains sketchy. Approximately 2,000 nationals from the former Soviet states are now detained in northeastern Syria. Central Asian nations including Tajikistan and Uzbekistan cite their own citizens returning from the battlefields of Syria and Iraq are currently their primary terrorist threat. Central Asian migrant laborer communities in Russia and Turkey are also seen as particularly vulnerable to recruitment. The report also flags South and Southeast Asia as prime targets for Islamic State returnees, as evidenced by both successful and thwarted attacks. “Two troubling trends observed are the targeting of places of worship and the continued prominence of women in operational activities,” it said. Both returnees and attempted jihadists have been linked to attacks in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
Islamic State has been resourceful in financing its activities post-caliphate, the report found, using small and medium-sized business to generate revenue, offering “seed money” to new affiliates and stashing valuable antiquities for a rainy day. “One Member State described ISIS affiliates being treated in a manner similar to start-up businesses, receiving ‘seed money’ and advice from head office,” it said. The group is estimated to have anywhere from US$50-300 million at its disposal to carry out its activities. However, “the group is adapting to its insurgency role with far fewer demands on its financial holdings.” The UN investigators learned that monetary transfers persist, with family members of active militants using personal or small business bank accounts in countries neighboring a given conflict zone – the cash then passed on by courier. Mobile payment applications and crypto currencies are cited as ripe for exploitation. A special ISIS unit – the ministry of “natural resources” – is believed to be responsible for the sale of antiquities which the group had excavated in Iraq and Syria. “Details of traded antiquities, as well as the current location of any stored antiquities, are assessed to be known only by ISIS leaders.” Preserving that leadership, at the top of which is self-proclaimed caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, remains the primary concern of the group.
NEW YORK, August 8 -- Humanity faces increasingly painful trade-offs between food security and rising temperatures within decades unless it curbs emissions and stops unsustainable farming and deforestation, a landmark climate assessment said Thursday.
The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that efforts to limit global warming while feeding a booming population could be wrecked without swift and sweeping changes to how we use the land we live off. Its report on land use and climate change highlighted the need to protect remaining tropical forests as a bulkhead against future warming. But in a stark warning to those who may hope that vast reforestation and biofuel schemes alone can offset mankind's environmental damage, the report cautioned that these mega-projects could endanger food security, underlining that reducing emissions will be central to averting disaster. "This is a perfect storm. Limited land, an expanding human population, and all wrapped in a suffocating blanket of climate emergency," said Dave Reay, Professor of Carbon Management at the University of Edinburgh. Land is intimately linked to climate. With its forests, plants and soil it sucks up and stores around a third of all man-made emissions.
Intensive exploitation of these resources also produces huge amounts of planet-warming CO2, methane and nitrous oxide, while agriculture guzzles up 70 percent of Earth's freshwater supply. As the global population balloons towards 10 billion by mid-century, how land is managed by governments, industry and farmers will play a key role in limiting or accelerating the worst excesses of climate change.
LAND USE TO BE PART OF GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE EFFORTThe report says Earth's land surface area is a key part of the solution to reducing the risks from climate change. The land, from tropical forests and peatlands to desert grasslands, soak up large amounts of planet-warming carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. It is part of a natural cycle in which carbon is produced and recycled by plants on land and organisms in the oceans as a way to regulate the climate.
But large-scale burning of fossil fuels, such as oil, gas and coal, as well as clearing and burning forests, has distrupted the natural order, leading to ever greater amounts of CO2 that nature can no longer absorb, fuelling a warming world.
The IPCC said the land should be part of any global effort to keep the world from overheating.
"But keeping global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius can be achieved only by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from all sectors including land and food," the IPCC says.
The report finds that there are many solutions to reduce the impacts on farmlands, including switching to less intensive cropping practices, ecosystem conservation and land restoration, reduced deforestation, cutting food waste and switching to climate-friendly diets.
It says coordinated action to address climate change can simultaneously improve land, food security and nutrition, and help to end hunger.
FOOD SECURITY"Food security will be increasingly affected by future climate change through yield declines -especially in the tropics - increased prices, reduced nutrient quality, and supply chain disruptions," said author Priyadarshi Shukla from India. "We will see different effects in different countries, but there will be more drastic impacts on low-income countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean," he said in a statement.
The report also highlights the changes in diets in recent decades, where the supply of meat and vegetable oils has more than doubled since 1961 as well as the disparity between those with access to food and those who don't.
There are about 2 billion adults who are overweight or obese, while an estimated 821 million people are still undernourished.
"The conclusion that we reached from the report is that the land that we are already using could feed the world in a changing climate and even provide biomass for renewable energy and to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But it takes early and far-reaching action on several fronts," said Dr Andy Reisinger, an IPCC vice-chair and Deputy Director (International) for the New Zealand Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre.
That included much better land management and careful planning on where to grow energy crops for renewable energy in a way that does not harm nature or threaten food security.
"Land can't help us get out of climate change problems on its own. It has to be part of a broader mix. There are ways in which we could really make mistakes by focusing too much on land as a way to address climate change," he told The Straits Times.
At present, between 25 and 30 per cent of total food produced is lost or wasted, the report says.
GENEVA, July 9 -- China is tightening its grip on Hong Kong and the territory's autonomy and democratic freedoms are slipping away, a prominent Hong Kong activist told the UN Human Rights Council on Monday (July 8) in a plea for international action.
Beijing's delegation twice interrupted the speech by Ms Denise Ho, a Hong Kong singer, producer and pro-democracy activist who is banned in mainland China. Mr Dai Demao, first secretary of China's mission to the UN in Geneva, accused Ms Ho of "slandering" and interfering with China's sovereignty and internal affairs. Hong Kong enjoyed a "high degree of autonomy" since the former British colony's 1997 handover, but protesters used extreme violence to attack the Legislative Council building a week ago, Mr Dai said. Tens of thousands of protesters marched through one of Hong Kong's most popular tourist areas on Sunday, trying to gain support from mainland Chinese visitors for the city's opposition to an extradition Bill which has caused political turmoil.
Ms Ho urged the Council to speak up in defence of the territory's autonomy by holding a special session and consider suspending China's membership in the 47-member forum. "This anger of Hong Kongers follows years of deceitful promises. Since the handover, we saw our autonomy slowly eroded," she told the council. "Disqualification of six lawmakers, cross-border kidnappings of booksellers, and activists jailed are proof of China's tightening grip. Real universal suffrage is still non-existent. "With a Chief Executive Officer appointed and controlled by Beijing, China is preventing our democracy at all costs," she said. Ms Ho, popularly known as HOCC, was referring to Beijing-backed Mrs Carrie Lam who is clinging to her job after suspending the Bill in the face of public protests. "The 'One Country, Two Systems' is nearing its death", Ms Ho said, referring to the model under which Hong Kong has been ruled for 22 years.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet last month urged the authorities in Hong Kong to "consult broadly" before passing or amending the Bill, or any other legislation. No state has brought a resolution on China at the session that ends on Friday. "We are all in danger in Hong Kong because we are on the edge of becoming just another China city where we would lose all our freedom of speech, freedom of protest and this is really that tipping point where either we can safeguard our city, or no, it goes the other way," Ms Ho told reporters. But she said the pro-democracy movement had a good chance of regaining seats in district council elections set for November, in what she called the "next battleground" against Chinese rule.
Author: Linda Lim
LUXEMBOURG, July 7 -- Luxembourg foreign minister Jean Asselborn has warned that escalating tensions between the US and Iran could cause a challenging refugee crisis for Europe.
Speaking to German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, Asselborn said Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement was a “complete misstep”. The Trump administration withdrew from the deal a year ago and reimposed sanctions on Iran’s economy and leaders, prompting it to scale back compliance and fuelling concerns that the region was sliding toward war. Iran has demanded economic relief from Europe in response to the sanctions by 7 July and threatened to resume purifying uranium to 5%, beyond the 3.67% allowed under the 2015 agreement should efforts fail.
The European troika – a decision group including the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – in June delivered Instex, a financial channel aimed at protecting some trade with Iran – most likely food and medicines – from the threat of US sanctions. However, Iran has said the trade vehicle is insufficient unless it can be used to buy Iranian oil. European officials say that oil purchases are a matter for the private sector. However, private sector companies remain wary of US sanctions. The effects of economic sanctions could also affect the roughly three million Afghan refugees living in the country of which around 1.5 to two million are estimated to be without legal status. Iran’s deputy foreign minister Abbas Araqchi in May said that Iran would have to consider asking Afghan refugees to leave under US economic sanctions. While the Iranian government later downplayed Araqchi’s comments, the issue remains on the table.
Speaking to Welt am Sonntag, Asselborn said that there is a risk that three million Afghans could leave Iran due to the tensions between Washington and Tehran. The Luxembourg foreign minister said he estimates that most of them would not return to Afghanistan but try to reach Europe via Turkey. “There is a risk of a huge wave of refugees which poses great challenges for Europe,” he said. Europe meanwhile has been trying to delay the 7 July deadline imposed by Iran and save the nuclear deal from falling apart. In a one-hour telephone call with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani on Saturday night, French president Emmanuel Macron reinforced his concerns about the risks of a further weakening in the multiparty pact meant to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
“Beyond the announced 7 July deadline, the president has agreed with his Iranian counterpart to explore by 15 July the conditions for a resumption of dialogue between all parties,” according to a statement from Macron’s office.
Author: Lora Smith
DAMASCUS, July 7 -- Tens of families returned to check their homes in the town of Al Qusayr in central Syria on Sunday, the first batch of civilians back to the town since it was liberated from the rebels in 2013.
Holding posters of President Bashar al-Assad and Syrian flags, the civilians entered the town in the countryside of Homs province in central Syria and surrounding villages to check on their homes. Talal Barazi, the governor of Homs, who was receiving the people in the town, told reporters that after the surrounding areas of the town were liberated from the Islamic State (IS) militants and like-minded groups, the government started clearing off the roads and restoring the infrastructure. About 70 percent of the infrastructure was fixed as other parts of the town are severely damaged, he said. Some logistic preparations have also been made to secure the town, he said, noting that it is an important economic area in the Homs province. The governor said there is a plan to restore three schools in three months by the start of the next education year. The Al Qusayr area is considered of strategic importance because it lies between the capital Damascus and the Mediterranean coast, and is close to the Lebanese border.
On April 4, 2013, the Syrian army launched an offensive against al-Qusayr, with the aim of capturing all villages around the rebel-held town and eventually the town itself. On June 5, 2013, the Syrian army finally regained control of al-Qusayr. Barazi, the governor, said there will be more people returning to the town, adding that more than 130 families have so far returned to the city of Palmyra in the countryside of Homs so far. He said that people are returning to their homes even from neighboring Lebanon, adding that 17 batches of the Syrian refugees have returned home in Homs from Lebanon.
Author: Lora Smith
GENEVA, July 5 -- Global temperatures could rise 1.5° C above industrial levels by as early as 2030 if current trends continue, but trees could help stem this climate crisis.
A new analysis finds that adding nearly 1 billion additional hectares of forest could remove two-thirds of the roughly 300 gigatons of carbon humans have added to the atmosphere since the 1800s. “Forests represent one of our biggest natural allies against climate change,” says Laura Duncanson, a carbon storage researcher at the University of Maryland in College Park and NASA who was not involved in the research. Still, she cautions, “this is an admittedly simplified analysis of the carbon restored forests might capture, and we shouldn’t take it as gospel.” The latest report from the United Nations’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changerecommended adding 1 billion hectares of forests to help limit global warming to 1.5° C by 2050. Ecologists Jean-Francois Bastin and Tom Crowther of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and their co-authors wanted to figure out whether today’s Earth could support that many extra trees, and where they might all go. They analyzed nearly 80,000 satellite photographs for current forest coverage. The team then categorized the planet according to 10 soil and climate characteristics. This identified areas that were more or less suitable for different types of forest. After subtracting existing forests and areas dominated by agriculture or cities, they calculated how much of the planet could sprout trees.
Earth could naturally support 0.9 billion hectares of additional forest—an area the size of the United States—without impinging on existing urban or agricultural lands, the researchers report today in Science. Those added trees could sequester 205 gigatons of carbon in the coming decades, roughly five times the amount emitted globally in 2018. “This work captures the magnitude of what forests can do for us,” says ecologist Greg Asner of Arizona State University in Tempe, who was not involved in the research. “They need to play a role if humanity is going to achieve our climate mitigation goals.” Adding forests wouldn’t just sequester carbon. Forests provide a host of added benefits including enhanced biodiversity, improved water quality, and reduced erosion. Estimates of how much forest restoration on this scale would cost vary, but based on prices of about $0.30 a tree, Crowther says it could be roughly $300 billion.
Exactly how much carbon future forests could store may not be crystal clear, but Duncanson says NASA has new instruments in space—like the Global Ecosystem Dynamics Investigation (GEDI) aboard the International Space Station—that will use lasers to create high-resolution 3D maps of Earth’s forests from canopy to floor. These data will add much-needed precision to existing estimates of aboveground carbon storage. “With GEDI we can take this paper as a stepping stone and inform it with much more accurate carbon estimates,” Duncanson says. “There have always been large uncertainties on large-scale carbon totals, but we have richer data coming soon.”
Source: Science Magazine
THE HAGUE, June 30 -- The meeting that Queen Máxima had during the G20 with the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has come to criticize her.
Agnes Callamard, who was investigating the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Kashoggi for the UN, said he was confident that the prince had raised the issue of extrajudicial execution. "I trust that you have insisted on justice." The point now is that Máxima had not done that. She is a special advocate for the UN for inclusive financing (microcredit in developing countries). Among other things, they discussed the economic position improvement of women in Saudi Arabia, in preparation for the next G20 in Saudi Arabia. The murder of the columnist Washington Post in the Saudi consulate in Instanbul remained undiscussed. That is not good, according to Callamard, for whom silence equals complicity.
"Credible evidence" about responsibility
The Callamard UN investigation revealed that there is "credible evidence" that Bin Salman was responsible for the murder. Kashoggi, columnist from The Washington Post, was stunned with an injection during a visit to the consulate and killed with a plastic bag over his head. The body of the Saudi dissident, presumably cut to pieces, was never recovered. A critical response was received in the Lower House, including by D66, SP. "Is it really true that she did not talk about the murder of journalist Khashoggi?" Says MP Karabulut. "Incomprehensible." She wants to talk to Minister Blok (Foreign Affairs) about the meeting on Monday. The VVD also sees it differently. Member of Parliament Sven Koopmans is "proud that our queen is having difficult diplomatic talks." "The inclusive financing envoy dares to have a difficult conversation here about women's rights with someone far away from her."
The RVD said it was customary for the queen to have a conversation with the host of the next G20 summit, which is Saudi Arabia. "The conversation between Queen Maxima and Prince Mohammed bin Salman was conducted under the responsibility of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, as usual in international performances by members of the Royal House," Algemeen Dagblad cited the RVD. "The cabinet was aware of the conversation."
US President Donald Trump also faced questions about his sit-down with Bin Salman at the G20 in Japan, his first face-to-face meeting since the US intelligence community concluded that the crown prince directed the killing of the Washington Post columnist. Trump, who called Bin Salman his "friend", has long sought to minimise the crown prince's role in the killing and has been reluctant to criticise the killing of the critic. Trump views the kingdom as the lynchpin of his Middle East strategy to counter Iran. At the news conference on Saturday, Trump was asked by a reporter if he agreed it was "despicable" for a government to kill a journalist. Trump replied: "Yes, I do. I think it's horrible. Or anybody else, by the way. And if you look at Saudi Arabia, you see what's happening, thirteen people, or so, have been prosecuted. Others are being prosecuted. They've taken it very, very seriously. And they will continue to." Callamard said the ongoing trial in Saudi Arabia was not carried out in "good faith". "Overall it does not meet international standards," she said. Only 11 out of 15 operatives who were at the consulate were being indicted, but their names and their charges have not been made public, said Callamard. She said the chain of command's responsibility was not being investigated and the trial's proceedings were contradicting the statements made by the public prosecutor. "For those who want to see a proper criminal trial taking place, an official request should be undertaken by the UN secretary-general upon the request of at least one member state," she said.
TOKYO, June 11 -- Japan's Cabinet approved Tuesday a plan to reduce greenhouse emissions to zero in the second half of the 21st century, as part of the country's strategy to fight global warming.
Renewable energy such as solar and wind will be the mainstay of Japan's energy use to achieve the goal, though coal-fired power plants will remain operational, a policy criticized by some energy experts as insufficient to cut carbon dioxide emissions significantly. Japan plans to present the strategy to the United Nations by late June when it hosts the Group of 20 summit, as required under the Paris Agreement. The 2015 climate accord aims to keep the rise in average global temperatures to an ideal 1.5 C above pre-industrial levels. Japan and Italy are the only nations among the Group of Seven countries that have not presented a strategy.
"Action against climate change is not a cost to the economy but a growth strategy toward the future," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Tuesday. "We will create a virtuous cycle and lead the paradigm shift of the world's climate policy." The strategy will also rely on nuclear power generation, even as concerns remain about the safety of nuclear plants after the 2011 Fukushima crisis. It calls for greater use of hydrogen to reduce dependency on nuclear power to the "lowest use possible" and developing advanced technology to improve power generation efficiency. A draft plan at a panel tasked with compiling the strategy urged scrapping all coal-fired plants in the long term. But the idea was dropped after meeting strong opposition from certain panel members from the business sector, drawing criticism from some environmental organizations. Under the long-term energy plan, the government aims to have renewables account for 22 to 24 percent, fossil fuels 56 percent and nuclear power 20 to 22 percent of the country's electricity generation in 2030.