Plan cuts tariffs on energy-saving wares

Kyodo News

Japan and the U.S. may propose that the Group of Eight major industrial powers eliminate or lower import tariffs on energy-saving products, such as fuel cells, solar cells and wind-powered generators to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, government sources said Wednesday.

The two countries may float the proposal during a two-day, U.S.-sponsored meeting of major greenhouse gas emitters starting Thursday in Washington, the sources said.

Japan wants to make it one of the major achievements of next year’s G8 leaders’ summit in Hokkaido.

The Japanese-U.S. initiative, which Japan is tentatively calling the “Tariff Elimination Initiative for Climate Change,” is aimed at fighting global warming by expanding trade in energy-saving products — a field Japan excels in, according to the sources.

Tokyo wants to use the initiative to take the lead in crafting a new framework to replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. Japan has already secured support from its G8 partners for a plan to halve global greenhouse gas emissions from current levels by 2050.

Japan hopes the proposal, if adopted, will lead to greater use of energy-saving products in major emerging economies, such as China and India.

The European Union is unlikely to oppose the plan, but the 27-nation bloc may disagree on which goods should benefit, the sources said, alluding to Japan’s call to put hybrid vehicles in the list.

The U.S. is also reluctant to include hybrid cars because it is concerned about the impact on U.S. automakers. Toyota Motor Corp. has a dominant share of the hybrid market, with cumulative sales of 1.15 million units worldwide chalked up since it launched the Prius hybrid sedan in Japan in 1997.

The G8 groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the U.S.

According to the sources, the U.S. floated the idea of liberalizing trade in environmentally friendly goods during high-level bilateral talks on climate change Aug. 8 in Tokyo.