"TOKYO - Japan's Cabinet approved revisions to energy laws Tuesday that aim to cut carbon dioxide emissions by an additional 5 million tons (5.5 million short tons) in the coming year, as part of efforts to meet reduction targets under an international global warming pact.
"If approved by parliament, the revisions would raise emissions standards for offices, banks and convenience stores, said Toyokazu Nagamune, an official of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
"Japan has been struggling to meet its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol to cut its emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to 6 percent below its 1990 level by 2012.
"The country's energy law has been revised several times since its enactment in 1979, most recently three years ago to boost emissions cuts by the transport sector.
"Under the current law, which governs energy use in most of the industrial sector, a single factory or an organization whose use of electricity and other forms of energy exceeds a statutory limit must report its energy consumption and spending plans to the government.
"The revision would expand that requirement to cover corporate head offices, banks, convenience store operators, hotel chains, schools and hospitals, and each of their outlets, Nagamune said. Officials have still to set the new level above which energy consumption and spending reports become compulsory, he added.
""A revised law would cover any large energy spender, regardless of their business sector," he said. "We also need to get more effort from ordinary consumers."
"The revision also aims to promote the construction of condominiums and houses with energy-saving features such as insulated walls, and would require construction companies to report their conservation plans to local governments, Nagamune said. A violator would face a penalties, including fines.
"He said schools, hospitals and companies would also be required to tell the government how they plan to cut their annual energy spending by 1 percent. Electronics appliances makers would be also encouraged to promote products with energy-saving and low emissions features, Nagamune said.
"The government hopes to pass the new measures by 2009."
By Mari Yamaguchi - AP (3/4/2008), CNBC, Link to article (last visited 3/5/2008)