Cutting emissions 80% by 2050 to be official goal

Kyodo

The Cabinet will adopt a revised Basic Environment Plan next week stating that Japan will slash its greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050 compared with 1990 levels, Environment Ministry officials said Wednesday.

The fourth Basic Environment Plan, which lays out policy guidelines, was proposed by the ministry’s Central Environment Council and is to be approved at a Cabinet meeting April 27.

The council’s discussions have focused on whether to set a specific goal despite concerns that emissions will inevitably increase in the near future because utilities have switched to thermal power generation while their nuclear reactors are shut down.

To reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the plan says, Japan must develop more green vehicles and develop air-conditioning systems that run on geothermal energy. At the same time, urban environmental projects and appropriate management of forests and farmland should be promoted to create carbon sinks that absorb emissions.

An economic greening initiative to make more businesses take environmental factors into account, as well as what the report terms strategic environmental diplomacy, are also seen as vital in meeting the emissions target, according to the plan.

The plan calls on the Tohoku region to tap its rich natural resources to expand the use of geothermal, wind, solar and other renewable energies, and make green power generation a major plank of its recovery from the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.

The first Basic Environment Plan was drawn up in 1994.