Noda welcomes road map for new U.N. climate-talks framework

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda welcomed Sunday the outcome of just-ended U.N. climate talks, citing its adoption of a road map for launching a new framework in 2020 to tackle greenhouse gas emissions.

The 17th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change "could reap significant results such as a road map toward building a new legal framework in which all countries participate," Noda said in a released comment.

The newly endorsed measure is supported by major emitters China and the United States.

Read the rest of the story: Noda welcomes road map for new climate-talks framework.

Japan’s new CO2 offset ideas to complement U.N.

Japans idea for a new carbon offset scheme would complement an existing U.N. mechanism and make it easier for developing countries to access clean-energy technology from Japan, a senior climate envoy said on Wednesday.

Japan has pressed ahead with plans for bilateral deals in which it invests in clean energy projects in developing countries, in exchange for credits to meet part of targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions at home.

The United Nations also runs a carbon offset scheme called the Clean Development Mechanism CDM, but it has been criticised for being too complex and rigid while taking too long to approve projects.

Read the rest of the story: Japan wants new CO2 offset scheme to complement U.N..

Bear attacks kill in Japan, climate change blamed

At least four people were killed and 80 wounded in bear attacks between April and September in the island-nation, much of which is covered in mountain forests, topping last year’s total of 64 attacks, said broadcaster NHK.

Some 400 bears were shot dead near human-populated areas by authorised hunters on Japan’s far-northern island of Hokkaido alone, where two people were mauled to death by bears earlier this year, a local official said.

In the mountainous central prefecture of Fukushima, northeast of Tokyo, more than 150 bears were shot dead after they encroached on residential areas.

Read the rest of the story: Bear attacks surge in Japan, climate change blamed.

World observes Earth Hour in the dark

On Earth Hour hundreds of millions of people around the world will come together to call for action on climate change by doing something quite simple—turning off their lights for one hour. The movement symbolizes that by working together, each of us can make a positive impact in this fight, protecting our future and that of future generations.

In Tokyo the usually brightly lit and iconic landmark that is Tokyo Tower was thrown into darkness at 8:30 p.m. Saturday to join this year’s Earth Hour global environmental campaign.

The move came along with some 125 countries and regions where people shut off their lights for one hour to highlight a commitment to tackling climate change.

Besides Tokyo Tower, the southwestern Japanese port city of Hiroshima was an active participant, where the Hiroshima Peace Memorial went dark at the same time according to local media.

Learn more about how Earth Hour began.

Japan Puts It’s Money Where it’s Mouth Is on Climate Change

Japan said Wednesday it would offer 1.75 trillion yen (19.5 billion dollars) to developing nations under a climate deal, offering a major boost to the summit in Copenhagen.

The figure amounts to more than half of the money as part of a plan to assist developing nations, a key sticking point at the 194-nation conference in the Danish capital.

“Japan as a country takes very seriously its responsibility in the international community,” Environment Minister Sakihito Ozawa told reporters.

“Japan has decided today that we will provide financial assistance to developing nations of approximately 1.75 trillion yen including public and private finances,” he said.

Ozawa said that Japan was making the pledge “all on the premise that a fair and effective international framework should be built and that this framework should involve all major countries.”

He said that 1.3 trillion yen would come in public funds, with the rest consisting of private money in the world’s second largest economy.

Ozawa gave the dollar figure of 15 billion for the pledge, although it comes to 19.5 billion with the current strength of the Japanese currency against the greenback.

It marks the biggest contribution yet to the so-called fast-track fund aimed at helping developing nations cope with climate change through 2012.

It tops the pledge by European leaders to provide 7.2 billion euros (10.6 billion dollars). The United States has said it is ready to pay a “fair share” but President Barack Obama has not yet announced any figure.

Ozawa said the funding would include mitigation efforts and the development of low-carbon technology, along with adaption by small island states.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s left-leaning government has ramped up pledges by Japan to battle global warming and to find a successor to the landmark Kyoto Protocol negotiated in the Asian power’s ancient capital.

Japan earlier said it would also take part in a six-nation, 3.5 billion-dollar fund to address deforestation, a major source of climate change.

Photo by Greenpeace Finland

Ocean Warming Causes Jellyfish to Swarm Japan’s Northern Waters

The fishermen leaned into the nets, grunting and grumbling as they tossed the translucent jellyfish back into the bay, giants weighing up to 450 pounds, marine invaders that are putting the men’s livelihoods at risk.

The venom of the Nomura, the world’s largest jellyfish, a creature up to 6 feet in diameter, can ruin a whole day’s catch by tainting or killing fish stung when ensnared with them in the maze of nets here in northwest Japan’s Wakasa Bay.

“Some fishermen have just stopped fishing,” said Taiichiro Hamano, 67. “When you pull in the nets and see jellyfish, you get depressed.”

This year’s jellyfish swarm is one of the worst he has seen, Hamano said. Once considered a rarity occurring every 40 years, they are now an almost annual occurrence along several thousand miles of Japanese coast, and far beyond Japan.

Scientists believe climate change — the warming of oceans — has allowed some of the almost 2,000 jellyfish species to expand their ranges, appear earlier in the year and increase overall numbers, much as warming has helped ticks, bark beetles and other pests to spread to new latitudes.

For more information:
Ocean warming causes jellyfish to swarm northern waters