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In the opening address, Fujio Mitarai, chairman of Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren), called for the adoption of drastic measures both in the home and in business to achieve the goals set by the Kyoto Protocol.

The event, which included a panel discussion after Matsuhashi's keynote speech, was organized by Keizai Koho Center (Japan Institute for Social and Economic Affairs) with the support of Nippon Keidanren. Diet members, diplomats and business people were among the 230 people who attended the forum.

Excerpts from Matsuhashi's speech follow:

The first step to addressing global warming and climate change was taken at the 1988 Group of Seven summit meeting at which major industrialized countries for the first time discussed reducing carbon dioxide emissions.

Almost 20 years have passed since then, and the issues of global warming and climate change have become important items, leading to the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a U.N. organization of international researchers and scientists, conducts tests and assesses possible impacts on the environment, compiling a report every five years since 1990.

The report compiled by one of its working groups in February concluded that it was very likely that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for the global rise in temperature since the mid-20th century.

It is now believed that such emissions could be adversely impacting the warming of the ocean, rises of average land temperatures and escalating wind patterns, among other changes.

Using scientific data on the past, the IPCC is studying a number of scenarios to examine how such changes could impact society, in an effort to find appropriate measures to minimize the risk.

In 1972, the U.N. Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm under the motto of "Only One Earth." In the years following the conference, the U.N. Environment Program was launched, while the Ramsar Convention and Washington Convention were implemented, in addition to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer.

The 1990s saw more active movements to tackle climate change, most prominently with the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush, however, has not ratified this treaty. But following Russia's ratification, the pact was brought into force in 2005.

There have been twists and turns surrounding the pact due to national interests and economic issues. But if we look at the drive in the three decades since 1972, it is unmistakable that a movement to tackle global warming, climate change and various other environmental issues has been gathering pace.

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