The government’s latest estimates show that as of 2010, Japan’s carbon dioxide emissions could be stabilized at their 1990 level at best, despite Tokyo’s earlier proposal calling for a maximum 5 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions for developed countries, it was learned Oct. 10.The estimates, to be submitted to a joint meeting of the Central Environment Council and other government panels concerned with environmental issues on Oct. 13, underline the widespread view that Japan is in fact ready to offer virtually no reductions in the emissions that cause global warning.On Oct. 6, Japan proposed that industrial countries use 5 percent as the “base reduction rate” in computing country-by-country obligations in the reduction of 1990-level greenhouse gas emissions by sometime between 2008 and 2012. The formula, which was devised for an upcoming U.N. conference on climate change in Kyoto, immediately drew fire from critics in both Japan and abroad as being too lenient and full of loopholes.The proposal would allow each industrial country to set its own target on the basis of one of three indexes: greenhouse gas emissions in relation to gross domestic product in 1990, per capita gas emissions in 1990, and population growth between 1990 and 1995.This would put Japan’s target at about 2.5 percent. But the Japanese proposal also calls for a “certain flexibility” in achieving the emission target and would consider uncertain factors such as future technological development and changes in the energy situation.As such, Japan plans to propose that a country not be penalized even if it fails to get within 2 percentage points of its targeted reduction rate. This means that Japan would be required to cut greenhouse gases by only 0.5 percent.In the proposal, Japan recommended that carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide be subject to legally binding emission cuts. Even if Japan is unable to make any cuts in the emission of carbon dioxide — the primary factor in global warming, the nation would still be able to meet the minimum 0.5 percent reduction target by cutting emissions in other gases such as methane, according to government sources.The latest estimates show that in 2010 carbon dioxide emissions from the industrial sector could be reduced by 7 percent from their 1990 level. But the potential reduction would be more than offset by increased emissions from the transport sector, which are now estimated to increase by 16 percent to 17 percent, the sources said.The government sources added that the overall level of carbon dioxide emissions, aided by an unspecified amount of reductions in the consumer sector, can be contained at the 1990 level.
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