Japan mulls minimum 20% greenhouse gas cut by 2030


Japan may set a target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels, as part of efforts to strike a new global deal to combat climate change later this year.

The target, still a source of conflict within the Abe administration, is being examined following an estimate by the International Energy Agency that Japan can reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 24 percent, sources said Wednesday.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government is trying to decide on a reduction target by June, when the leaders of the Group of Seven major industrialized nations will meet in Germany.

But divergent views exist within the government.

The Environment Ministry is pushing for a goal of around 25 percent through measures such as promoting renewable energies and hiking energy efficiency. But the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which is close to major manufacturers, is reluctant to set a goal in excess of 20 percent, viewing renewable energy forms as costly.

Global efforts are underway to create a new anti-climate change framework at the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) to be held in Paris at the end of the year. The accord would replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.

A total of 33 countries, including the United States, Russia and European Union members, which together generate 40 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, submitted their reduction goals to the U.N. Climate Change Secretariat by the end of March.

But Japan, the fifth-largest greenhouse gas emitter, has lagged behind because discussions have been delayed by the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear meltdowns, which have thrown the country’s energy policy into disarray.

The Abe government is now working out a new future energy mix for the nation and is leaning toward renewables and nuclear power, which are regarded as zero-emission energy sources, supplying at least 45 percent of Japan’s total electricity by 2030.

If further measures are implemented for energy conservation, in addition to the new mix it would be possible to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent, according to the sources.

The United States, the world’s second-largest emitter, has pledged to cut emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. The 28-nation European Union is aiming for a 40 percent reduction by 2030 from 1990 levels.