• Kyodo

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Thirty-three countries, which together produce 40 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, have submitted their emission reduction targets to the U.N. climate body, which could boost efforts to reach a new global agreement later this year to combat climate change.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, which received the submissions from countries including the United States and Russia, hailed the move as a very good start.

But Japan, the fifth largest greenhouse gas emitter, was among the countries that missed the March 31 deadline, with no clear prospects on when to file its own reduction goal because it is still working out the details of its energy policy in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster.

“We are not in a situation to specify the timing of filing (our climate action plan),” Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki said, apparently referring to the fact that Japan has not yet decided on the composition and proportion of its future energy production. Nuclear power accounted for around 30 percent of its energy production before the triple meltdown at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

Japan has also lagged behind other countries in the promotion of renewable energy, as the global capacity of wind power generation at the end of 2019 will be nearly double that of last year.

The world’s capacity to produce electricity from wind power will reach 666.1 million kilowatts in 2019, up 296.5 million kW from 369.6 million kW in 2014, with China’s contribution staying at around 30 percent of the total, the Global Wind Energy Council said Wednesday.

The council simply said: “Japan is expected to emerge as a strong wind power market after 2016.”

The installment of new wind power facilities in Asia is expected to increase faster than any other region over the five years through 2019, adding 140 million kW, including 100 million kW from China, which is struggling to combat serious air pollution.

The countries that met the end-of-March emissions target deadline include 28 members of the European Union, Norway, Switzerland and Mexico.

China, the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, meanwhile, has delayed the planned date of submitting its pledge to June.

The United States, the second largest emitter, on Tuesday pledged to cut its emissions by 26 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025, calling it an “ambitious” target. However, it is more modest than Europe’s goal of slashing emissions by 40 percent by 2030 compared with 1990 levels.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said his country “took an important step” through the submission of its target, and added: “Now it’s time for other nations (to) come forward with their own targets to help ensure we can reach a global agreement at the U.N. Climate Conference in Paris later this year.”

Russia, the fourth largest emitter, vowed to cut emissions by 25 to 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

Industrialized countries that are lagging behind the moves, such as Japan, Canada and Australia, are likely to face further pressure to submit their own climate action plans soon.

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