TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi warned on Monday that the Paris climate accord could face death if steps to fight global warming were put on the backburner to facilitate the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Many economists and policymakers are forecasting a steep global recession this year as countries are forced into lockdowns to contain the spread of the coronavirus, curtailing business activity in a major blow to jobs and incomes.
“It would virtually mean the death of the Paris accord if we gave priority unconditionally to economic recovery, while neglecting the environment,” Koizumi told Reuters in an interview.
Under the landmark 2015 Paris accord, nearly 200 nations agreed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a bid to prevent catastrophic planetary warming.
“No one at the environment ministry disagrees that the economy is important. We just would like to behave in a way that ensures the environment will never be left behind,” said Koizumi.
Japan last month submitted to the United Nations its closely watched target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a five-year review.
The goal of a 26% reduction by the fiscal year ending March 2031 from levels seen in fiscal 2013 was unchanged from five years ago, disappointing climate change campaigners, although the country said it will pursue effort for further cuts.