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Japan offers $ 2 billion environment rescue package

Japan announced today a $ 2 billion environment rescue package for developing countries in a bid to kick-start tense UN talks aimed at securing a pact on saving biodiversity.

world Updated: Oct 27, 2010 13:52 IST

Japan announced on Wednesday a $ 2 billion environment rescue package for developing countries in a bid to kick-start tense UN talks aimed at securing a pact on saving biodiversity.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Japan wanted to help lead the world in protecting the world's animals and plants from extinction, and offered the money to poor nations over the next three years.

"We will launch a 'life in harmony initiative' to support developing countries' efforts to compile and update their national (biodiversity) strategies and implement them," Kan said.

"We will provide assistance in the amount of two billion US dollars over three years from 2010."

Kan was addressing delegates from more than 190 countries who are in the central Japanese city of Nagoya to map out a strategy to save the world's plant and animal species from extinction.

The 12-day event is due to end on Friday with the United Nations aiming for a 10-year plan that includes commitments for protecting ecosystems and ending the loss of biodiversity that scientists say is threatening humans' lives.

Pointing with alarm at an ongoing extinction crisis, scientists say humans' destruction of ecosystems is causing the world's plant and animal species to vanish at up to 1,000 times the natural rate.

While all delegates in Nagoya have said they are committed to securing a pact this week, talks have become bogged down in familiar disputes between rich and poor nations that have plagued climate change negotiations.

One point of dispute has been an insistence from developing countries that rich nations must commit to helping them financially to save their rainforests, waterways, wetlands and other ecosystems.

In this regard, Japan's announcement improved the mood in Nagoya - even though details were scant as to where the money would be spent and whether it would all be direct aid or include loans.

Environmental group Greenpeace, which is part of the large civil society movement also involved in the talks, said Japan's offer likely boosted the chances of a meaningful deal being reached in Nagoya.

"This is a great start, that Japan is providing concrete figures to protect life on Earth," Greenpeace Japan's ocean campaigner, Wakao Hanaoka, told AFP.