Costa Rica minister visits Japan looking for aid to achieve Carbon Neutral goal
TOKYO, Sep. 15, 2010 (Kyodo News International) — Visiting Costa Rican Foreign Minister Rene Castro called Wednesday for Japanese assistance in achieving the country’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2021, saying his nation needs technologies for environment-friendly vehicles and financial aid.
Castro, who visited factories of Nissan Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. during his four-day trip through Wednesday, said in an interview with Kyodo News that the main obstacle to realizing the target is the transportation sector.
“We are as bad as the United States. We have one car for every three citizens. It’s too many cars,” the foreign minister said. “We need to improve mass transportation. We need cleaner fuels like electric vehicles and hybrids.”
The Central American country pledged in 2007 to cut its net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2021 to become the first carbon neutral country in the world. Norway also aims to get rid of its heat-trapping gas emissions in net terms by 2030.
Castro said his country has made efforts to stop deforestation and increase energy generated from renewable sources and that the nation now needs support from the world to improve other sectors including transportation.
The minister said he expects Japanese automakers to use Costa Rica “as a laboratory” in marketing their environment-friendly vehicles. Since the nation has hilly areas, it would help the manufacturers to test the performance of their products, he added.
Castro, who has headed Costa Rican delegations in the past U.N. climate talks, said he is rather pessimistic about the outcome of the next U.N. climate conference in Mexico, with lingering negative effects of the global economic crisis and uncertainties in the U.S. political conditions following the mid-term election.
The upcoming climate talks will be held in Cancun in late November and early December. Castro said if the meeting fails to agree on technical and financial aid to help developing countries combat climate change, it would take much time for Costa Rica to fulfill its carbon neutral goal.
Costa Rica’s Christiana Figueres currently serves as the chief of the U.N. climate change secretariat.
Castro later met with his Japanese counterpart Katsuya Okada and agreed that the two countries will cooperate with each other for the success of the Cancun meeting.
In the interview, the Costa Rican minister stressed the need for Japan and his country to support Pacific and Caribbean island nations that are vulnerable to the impact of climate change
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