Climate Targets Are Falling Like A House Of Cards

  • Date: 08/06/11

A climate bill proposed by the Japanese government may be amended to remove a reference to a 2020 goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels, the Asahi newspaper said, citing the head of a key parliamentary committee which is debating the bill.

Sakihito Ozawa, a lawmaker in the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and former environment minister, has proposed three options, including removing the reference to the 2020 goal, to improve the bill’s chances of passage before international climate negotiations get into full swing, the newspaper said.

The proposals came despite recent remarks from Prime Minister Naoto Kan that Japan would stick to its goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels.

Kan has also said renewable energy would be a key pillar of Japan’s energy policy and that its nuclear power must be reviewed from scratch after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami caused the world’s worst atomic crisis in 25 years.

The nuclear sector, which before the quake matched 30 percent of electricity demand in Japan, used to be considered an important tool in meeting one of the toughest 2020 emission-cut goals among rich nations.

But Kan, already Japan’s fifth premier in as many years, is losing his grip within the ruling party, surviving a no-confidence vote on June 2 by offering to resign once he has overcome the worst of the nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima plant.

The Asahi reported that the three options were:

– Removing the reference to the minus 25 percent goal, with an amended version saying that a numerical reduction target should be set in the future

– Removing the reference, but the amended version mentions that the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change thinks developed nations should cut emissions by 25-40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020

– Keeping the reference, but a revised bill says the 2020 emissions-cut goal would be subject to change if necessary

Reuters, 8 June 2011

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