Warming bill to ax long-term emissions goal

Revisions look to offset pre-Fukushima optimism in Hatoyama's pledge

Kyodo

In a move likely to draw the ire of environmentalists, revisions to Japan’s climate change legislation will not set a long-term numerical target for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a document revealed Tuesday.

The revisions are in response to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s order to rethink the internationally pledged emissions goal announced in 2010 by the Democratic Party of Japan-led administration of Yukio Hatoyama, which states Japan will cut carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

Environmentalists argue that the revisions, if adopted, will represent a backward step in Japan’s fight against climate change.

The DPJ-proposed bill was scrapped after the Lower House was dissolved for last December’s general election, which saw the conservative Liberal Democratic Party return to power.

During its time in power, the fledgling DPJ-led government approved a bill in March 2010 setting an emissions reduction target of 80 percent by 2050. This goal has since been widely recognized by the international community as Japan’s long-term reduction target.

The revisions are aimed at setting Japan’s climate change agenda from fiscal 2013 onward. The existing plan for achieving the targets set by the Kyoto Protocol, the backbone of Japan’s global warming measures, expires in fiscal 2012, which ends March 31.

The Kyoto Protocol obliges Japan to reduce emissions by 6 percent from 1990 levels in the first phase. Japan was set to achieve this target but opted out of the second phase, saying the framework lacks effectiveness in the absence of major gas-emitting countries, including the United States and China.

Hatoyama’s pledge, made before the Fukushima disaster and subsequent nationwide reactor halt, was premised in part on a long-term, LDP-initiated plan to vastly expand nuclear power use.

The draft will not reflect calls for numerical targets by New Komeito, the LDP’s ruling coalition partner, which is seeking an 80 percent cut in gas emissions by 2050 compared with 1990 levels.

The evisions state Japan will draw up a new plan to fight global warming that will be reviewed at least every three years.