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Japan to keep to its pledge regarding greenhouse gas reduction

 November 27, 2012
 Japan won't retract pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25%



DOHA, Qatar -- Japan has decided not to retract its international pledge to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020, as the 18th session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP18) kicked off here in the Qatari capital on Nov. 26.

Japan will make a formal decision at a committee meeting of its Cabinet members concerned on Nov. 27. Although the Doha climate conference is set to discuss a new global deal to replace the Kyoto Protocol, Japan could weaken its influence in the upcoming negotiations by keeping the unattainable target intact.

The Doha conference on the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change is gearing up for final talks on measures to combat global warming in a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol as its first commitment period expires before the end of this year.

Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah, chairman of the Qatari Administrative Control and Transparency Authority, who presides over the Doha climate conference, urged delegates from around the world to strive to reduce the effects of global warming and ensure the safety of future generations.

In 2009 -- before the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear crisis -- then Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama made an international pledge on behalf of the Japanese government to cut the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. That pledge was made on the assumption that more nuclear reactors would be built in the country in the future. But because of the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, Japan's emissions target has become increasingly difficult to achieve.

In September, the government drew up the "Innovative Strategy for Energy and the Environment" aimed at phasing out nuclear power by the 2030s. But the government postponed its decision on the ratio of nuclear power in relation to the country's total power generation for 2020. The Ministry of the Environment had planned to thrash out a new greenhouse gas emissions target by the end of this year, but it became unclear whether a new target could be set anytime soon because Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda dissolved the House of Representatives earlier this month for a snap election set for Dec. 16.

Furthermore, the government said in its strategy that it would aim at reducing greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 5 to 9 percent from 1990 levels by 2020. According to these figures, Japan won't be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels even if it buys emissions credits from other countries.

Noda said in October that it would be difficult to achieve the target.

However, the government has no plans to withdraw its international pledge, saying it will carefully consider the matter while keeping in mind the possible impact on international negotiations. A government official said, "If we were to announce a plan to lower the target, we would take nothing but a huge bashing. There is no merit in doing that." Nevertheless, the government has not come up with specific measures to achieve the target.

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