To achieve a 2.5 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in the next century, a law must be revised to give the government greater authority to control energy use, according to Osamu Watanabe, vice minister for international trade and industry.Watanabe was speaking Oct. 8 on the government’s proposal for a framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, announced Oct. 6. Under the plan, Japan would have to try to achieve an emission level 2.5 percent lower than that of 1990 by 2012.In response to fierce criticism that the proposal is not strong enough to prevent global warming, Watanabe said the 2.5 percent target is “extremely strict.” He added that the government will have to implement drastic measures to control the nation’s energy consumption by revising existing laws or creating new ones.Under the existing energy conservation law, the government can instruct companies to draw up and comply with a rationalization plan for efficient use of energy in commercial buildings and factories. If they fail to fulfill their obligations, those firms’ names can be disclosed to the public.The government, however, is likely to have to adopt even stronger measures –including going as far as ordering some energy-inefficient factories to shut down — if the current enforcement measures fail to produce the desired results, Watanabe told a news conference.He also said stricter standards must be introduced to cap energy consumption in offices and homes. “We will probably start with campaigns calling for electricity conservation efforts, such as setting room temperatures no lower than 28 degrees in summer or below 20 in winter,” he said. “And if those campaigns do not work, then we may have to consider changing air conditioners themselves.”

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