Ministry to endorse green pilot projects


The Environment Ministry on Monday is to endorse 16 environment-friendly pilot projects ranging from promoting the use of cooking oil in city buses to encouraging drivers to leave their cars at home.

The 16 projects were proposed by regional forums — composed of residents, municipal officials and industry representatives — established under the nation’s global warming prevention law, which was revised earlier this year.

Under the program, five regional groups will “diagnose” nearly 1,300 homes and propose ways to make them and their residents’ lifestyles more energy efficient.

Meanwhile, five regional groups will monitor the driving habits of some 130 drivers in five areas. Data garnered will be transferred to drivers via mobile phones or computers to help them drive more efficiently.

The six model projects to be carried out include:

* rent-a-cycle projects designed to get commuters to leave their cars at home in Kyoto and Osaka;

* a car-free day in Ube, Yamaguchi Prefecture;

* “eco-money” that can be exchanged for “eco-goods,” provided by the government of Fuchu, Hiroshima Prefecture, to residents in 500 households that cut energy consumption;

* buses powered by cooking oil collected from 5,200 homes in Munakata, Fukuoka Prefecture.

The ministry is requesting 200 million yen for the programs, which are planned for fiscal 2003, officials said.

The projects are among the government’s fledgling attempts to address the nation’s rising greenhouse gas emissions — in fiscal 2000, they were more than 8 percent above 1990 levels. The government has been struggling to trim emissions from the civil and transportation sectors, which have both jumped by nearly 20 percent.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, Japan must trim emissions to an average of 94 percent of 1990 levels during the period from 2008 to 2012.