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Japan scales back date to lower emissions


SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Japan scales back date to lower emissions

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WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Japan’s decision to drastically scale back its target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions could hurt efforts to craft a global deal to fight climate change, delegates at United Nations (UN) talks said recently.
The new target approved by the Japanese Cabinet calls for reducing emissions by 3.8 per cent from their 2005 level by 2020.
The revision was necessary because the earlier goal of a 25 per cent reduction from the 1990 level was unrealistic, the chief government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, told reporters in Tokyo.
The new target represents a three per cent increase over 1990 emissions.
Given Japan’s status as the world’s third largest economy and fifth largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, the decision to back away from the more ambitious target could be a significant setback for efforts to reach a new global climate agreement in 2015.
The European Union’s delegates at the climate talks in Warsaw “expressed disappointment”, while UN climate chief Christiana Figueres summed up the mood by saying there’s “regret” over Japan’s decision.
However, she praised Japan’s advances in increasing energy efficiency and in solar energy investments, and predicted that the Japanese “will soon see that the current target is actually conservative”.
“I don’t have any words to describe my dismay,” China’s official Xinhua News Agency cited Su Wei, deputy chief of the Chinese delegation to the climate talks, as telling reporters in Warsaw.
Japanese delegate Hiroshi Minami acknowledged that “most of the developing countries are very disappointed” with the move.
Under the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, Japan pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 6 percent to 1.186 billion tons a year on average over the five years to March 2013.
It has since opted out of the agreement, though came close to meeting that goal before the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant prompted shut-downs of all nuclear plants for safety checks.
The resulting shift back toward reliance on coal, oil and gas for power, and use of diesel generators, has hindered further progress.
Emissions in the fiscal year that ended in March were up 2.8 per cent from the year before, and at 1.207 billion tons, the second highest after a record 1.218 billion tons in fiscal 2007.

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