Japan can meet its international pledge to fight global warming by forcing its industries to cut energy consumption, a nongovernmental organization proposed at a symposium in Tokyo on Sunday.
Under the proposal, presented by the Kyoto-based Kiko Network (climate network), the bulk of the reductions would be realized if industries shifted to sustainable energy and improved energy efficiency.
The 61-page proposal outlines 10 measures, including a clean energy promotion law, a coal tax, carbon tax and obligatory reduction commitments, that would reduce energy-generated carbon dioxide emissions to 978 million tons, or 266.7 tons of carbon.
The NGO also said that automobile fuel efficiency could improve 54.9 percent, 32 percent higher than government targets, and that the number of hybrid cars can be increased to 2.4 million units, compared with the government’s forecast of one million.
The measures would require a 3 trillion yen investment but yield 6 trillion yen in cost-reduction benefits, the report said.
Representatives of the group criticized Japanese policy because it does not strongly urge industry to cut energy consumption.
However, participants from government and industry questioned the feasibility of some of the NGO’s proposed targets.
“From a critical perspective, it would be helpful if the proposal addressed potential negative effects on the economy,” said Takashi Shibuya of the International Trade and Industry Ministry, adding that he could not imagine a climate change agreement that did not incorporate flexibility mechanisms.
Kiko Network’s Naoyuki Hata charged that the state’s plan hinges on measures with potential loopholes that depend on foreign countries.
The government’s plan proposes that 3.7 percent of its greenhouse gas reductions be achieved by making use of its forests’ carbon dioxide absorbing properties, two percent through “citizen effort” and technology, and 1.8 percent through flexibility mechanisms that allow greenhouse gas emission credits to be acquired from activities abroad.
Industrialized countries must cut greenhouse gas emissions by 5.2 percent of their 1990 levels by 2012, under the Kyoto Protocol adopted at COP3, the Third Conference of Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, in December 1997. The nations are to grind out specific rules and guidelines for mechanisms at COP6 in The Hague, The Netherlands, from Nov. 13 to Nov. 24.
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