Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Kyoto Protocol: Japan and Greenhouse Gas Reductions

"TOKYO, March 19 (Reuters) - Japan can cut greenhouse gas emissions by 11 percent by 2020 below 2005 levels, a trade ministry study said on Wednesday, far below efforts proposed by U.N. officials and the European Union.

"Japan could achieve the cuts through an overhaul of energy supply including installing solar panels on 70 percent of new homes and a jump in nuclear power-generated electricity to 45 percent of supply from 30 percent currently, as well as a 15 percent improvement in auto fuel efficiency.

"The measures would put Japan's emissions at 1.214 billion tonnes in carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent in 2020, nearly 11 percent down from 1.359 billion tonnes in 2005, said the study, which estimated the cost of such cuts at more than $500 billion.

"Japan's estimated total emissions by 2020 would be at 4 percent below the levels in 1990, the base year under the Kyoto Protocol.

"But that is only a minor reduction when compared with EU plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by a fifth by 2020 compared to 1990 levels.

"The U.N.'s climate change chief Yvo de Boer is currently steering talks to extend or replace the Kyoto Protocol after 2012 and wants developed nations to adopt a target range of 2020 emissions 25-40 percent below 1990 levels at a meeting of leaders from Group of Eight nations in Japan in July.

"The next U.N.-led climate meeting is set to be held in Bangkok from March 31-April 4 in talks due to end in 2009 on forging a global pact that involves all nations in taking action to combat climate change.

"NATIONAL TARGETS

"The 25-40 percent reduction range by 2020 has been floated since a U.N. meeting in Vienna last August as a non-binding starting point for rich countries to work on the global pact, but Japan has not commented on a numerical target.

"Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) submitted its study to an advisory panel on Wednesday, and it is expected to provide a basis for discussions within the country on how to share the costs of shifting Japan toward what Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda called earlier this year "a low carbon society."

"The study estimated households would shoulder a 51 percent share of the estimated total cost of 52.3 trillion yen ($522 billion), with the remaining 49 percent shared by corporate offices, factories and electric power companies.

"The study is expected to emphasize Japan's recent proposals on how to reduce global emissions in the medium to long term.

"While Japan, the world's fifth-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, has backed a 50 percent reduction by 2050 together with other nations, it has also proposed setting a global target of 30 percent improvement in energy efficiency by 2020.

"Japan has rejected using 1990 as a base year for emissions cuts, saying it was unfair to their industry which had already made energy efficiency investments in previous decades.

"The way emissions are calculated in the study was similar to Japan's proposal for post-Kyoto pact that top emitting nations assign near-term emissions targets for each industrial sector which, added up, would then form a national target.($1=99.63 Yen)"

By Risa Maeda, Reuters (3/19/2008), Link to article (last visited 3/19/2008)

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