TOKYO (AFP) — Tokyo's outspoken governor on Wednesday berated world leaders for their "foolish" failure to halt global warming as major cities met to plan action on the climate.
Mayors or senior officials from 36 of the world's largest cities were gathering for two days of talks in Tokyo on how to fight global warming in the latest meeting of the so-called C40 climate initiative.
Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara lashed out at Russia and the United States for disputing rights to the North Pole, noting that the polar ice cap was melting at a record pace.
"Such is the ego of human beings. It's such a foolish tale," Ishihara said in an opening address.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last month called for drafting a border in the oil-rich Arctic to be completed, sparking protests as Canada said it would boost military alertness.
Russia later said it had no plans for a "unilateral partition" of the Arctic.
Ishihara said he was "very disappointed" with international talks on climate change including July's summit in Japan of leaders of the Group of Eight rich nations, who called for at least halving global carbon emissions by 2050.
"It's easy to share a sense of crisis but if you can't come up with specific measures to deal with this, then the crisis will only get worse," Ishihara said.
Toronto Mayor David Miller said cities were especially threatened by global warming, pointing to the so-called "urban heat island effect" in which populated areas heat up in the summer.
Metropolitan areas tend to have higher temperatures than rural areas due to heat-absorbing concrete roads and buildings in addition to warm air exhaust caused by air conditioning inside.
"Cities are especially vulnerable to climate change events," Miller said. "It's essential that leader-cities continue to exchange best practices and technological innovation."
The C40 was initiated in 2005 by London's then socialist mayor Ken Livingstone, an ardent environmentalist.
The latest C40 meeting involves Bangkok, Beijing, Cairo, Chicago, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, New York, Paris, Rome, Seoul, Singapore and Sydney among other cities.
Ishihara, a celebrated novelist, is controversial for his bluntly nationalistic remarks including frequent denunciations of China.
But he has also become one of Japan's most popular politicians by taking strong-armed action on the environment, including slapping a complete ban on polluting diesel vehicles inside Tokyo.
In June, Ishihara ordered Japan's first mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, moving faster than the national government as Japan struggles to meet its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.
Japan on Tuesday launched a carbon market for the first time on a national scale as promised by former prime minister Yasuo Fukuda. But the system is only voluntary based on emissions cuts pledged by companies.
Under so-called "cap-and-trade" systems which have come into growing use in the European Union, companies have an economic incentive to cut emissions as they can sell credits to those that lag behind.
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