As part of its initiative to tackle global warming, the government on Oct. 13 announced a series of energy-conservation measures it says will cause “drastic changes” to people’s lifestyles.The proposed measures, however, would only stabilize carbon dioxide emissions at the 1990 levels by 2010 and fall short of the nation’s pledged target of a 2.5 percent reduction by 2012. Government officials said they will continue to explore technological developments and other measures to further reduce carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions.The measures call for introducing stricter energy conservation standards for electrical products that would improve overall energy efficiency in office buildings and in households. Specifically, it says, the “top runner” system should be introduced when setting energy-conservation targets. Under the top runner system, manufacturers must achieve the best available energy efficiency level for the same category of products, instead of using average levels as in the past.The measures, if fully implemented, would reduce Japan’s carbon dioxide emissions by 9.7 million tons over the next 13 years, the proposal says. If the same top runner system is used to improve energy efficiency for automobiles, it says, emissions would decrease by 3.2 million tons by 2010.The proposal says that if these standards are enforced, they will inevitably lead to higher prices for electrical products and automobiles. Also, it says companies that fail to successfully adopt the new criteria may be forced to quit production of certain products.In addition to corporate efforts, the report emphasizes that it is imperative for individuals to make greater conservation efforts, by making more efficient use of TVs, air conditioners and other appliances both at home and at work. Specifically, it recommends room temperatures be kept no lower than 28 C in summer and no higher than 20 in winter.It encourages people to walk or ride bicycles rather than drive to prevent traffic congestion and reduce auto emissions. When driving, the proposal asks people to avoid idling the engine when stopped and to refrain from accelerating suddenly.However, if it fails to get sufficient results by around 2005, the government would consider implementing some mandatory restrictions such as banning production of air conditioners that can cool rooms below 28.
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