TOKYO - Labor ministers from the Group of Eight industrialized nations met with international trade union and business groups Sunday to discuss the reduction of workplace emissions of "greenhouse" gases blamed for global warming, officials said.
The talks, in Niigata on Japan's north coast, are aimed at boosting support for global environmental initiatives before Japan hosts the G-8 summit in July.
The labor ministers, whose formal talks start Monday, are also expected to address concerns about growing income disparity, aging and uncertainty over financial markets, Japan's Health and Welfare Ministry said.
Participants at Sunday's session — including representatives from the International Labor Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development — issued a statement urging G-8 nations to promote sustainable labor markets and environmental protection at workplaces.
"The G-8 countries should foster a societal approach moving all industry sectors in more environmentally friendly and energy efficient directions," it said.
Japan hopes to lead the discussions with its experience from "Cool-Biz" — a no-tie, no-jacket summer campaign it launched in 2005 to curb greenhouse gas emissions by limiting the use of office air conditioning, Kyodo News agency reported.
Many countries, including Japan, are struggling to meet targets set by the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, which requires that greenhouse gas emissions be reduced by an average of 5 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.
Japan is now considering setting a more aggressive emissions reduction target for 2050 — raising the current goal of a 50 percent emissions cut to between 60 percent and 80 percent — to be announced in mid-June, public broadcaster NHK reported Sunday.
Japanese officials also plan to discuss how industries that are likely to be hurt by climate change can seek alternative income sources, such as ski resorts facing snow shortages pursuing other forms of tourism, Kyodo said.
The G-8 comprises Britain, Italy, Canada, the United States, France, Russia, Germany and Japan. Thailand and Indonesia were invited to join some discussions.