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YASU, Shiga Pref. — Initiatives by local governments in cooperation with residents are indispensable in cutting power consumption and promoting renewable energy, Takeshi Wada, a professor at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, said Wednesday at the opening of a meeting of local governments pushing green policies.

About 800 people, including representatives from 100 local governments, attended the opening of the ninth meeting of the Coalition of Local Governments for Environmental Initiatives, Japan, to discuss energy policies and other environmental measures.

The coalition, formed in 1992, comprised 61 municipal governments as of April 1.

“Each local government has different renewable energy sources particular to that region — it might be wind and it might be biomass,” Wada said. “So, the promotion of ‘green energy’ is best undertaken by local governments.”

Wada also stressed the importance of involving local residents in drawing up new energy policies and implementing them.

The national government is calling for raising the share of new forms of energy in the overall supply to 3.1 percent by 2010, compared to the European Union’s goal of 12 percent by that year.

The current rate in Japan is slightly above 1 percent. But at the local level, various measures are being introduced that promote renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and biomass.

For instance, in Yasuzuka, Niigata Prefecture, which is famous for its heavy snow, the town government has introduced a system that makes use of stored snow as a natural coolant in summer. In Shiga Prefecture, a nonprofit organization has set up a fund to subsidize the use of solar power.

Participants agreed there are many things local governments can do to promote the use of green energy, but various regulations are blocking the way.

The three-day meeting is to take up such issues as recycling, agricultural measures and environmentally friendly transportation systems today.

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