National

Japan's fiscal '13 greenhouse gas emissions worst on record

Kyodo

Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions rose in fiscal 2013 to the equivalent of 1.395 billion tons of carbon dioxide, its worst total since comparable data became available in fiscal 1990, according to the Environment Ministry.

Emissions over the year through last March rose 1.6 percent from a year earlier due largely to the expansion in fossil fuel-based power generation, the ministry said Thursday. Thermal power generation, which generates large amounts of carbon dioxide, has increased sharply since the 2011 Fukushima disaster began, leading to the idling of all of the nation’s nuclear power plants, which had produced about a third of its electricity.

Emissions in fiscal 2013 were up 1.3 percent from fiscal 2005 and 10.6 percent from fiscal 1990.

Since Japan has set a goal of reducing emissions by 3.8 percent by fiscal 2020 from fiscal 2005, the latest result underscores the major challenge it faces in achieving that target.

To improve the situation, a ministry official said Japan will push more energy-saving steps and maximize the use of renewable energy to reduce the use of hydrochlorofluorocarbons, which emit large amounts of greenhouse gas.

Japan’s dismal emissions record, however, has prompted the deputy leader of China’s delegates to an the ongoing U.N. conference on climate change in the Peruvian capital of Lima to call on Japan to set an ambitious goal of emission cuts beyond 2020.

Su Wei made the remarks Thursday in an interview at the venue for the so-called COP20 conference through Dec. 12.

Representatives from more than 190 countries and regions are seeking a broad agreement by the end of next year to develop a new global framework in 2020 to fight global warming.

Su said Japan should play a key role in striking a deal for the new framework, adding Beijing wants Tokyo to present an ambitious target on emission cuts and that he believes this hope is shared by all other countries across the world.

Japan has yet to decide when to present its emissions reduction target because it has yet to revamp energy policy since the Fukushima nuclear crisis began in March 2011.

In November, China announced its intention to start reducing greenhouse gas emissions after hitting a peak in around 2030. It is expected to present a concrete target by mid-2015 at the latest, Su said, adding Beijing intends to double its efforts against climate change.

Su, however, did not specify at what level the numerical target would be as it is still under discussion with research institutions and government offices.

Referring to the United States’ recent announcement of a new emission cut target, which coincided with China’s revelation of its emissions cut policy, Su said the two countries should work toward positive multinational negotiations for creating a new framework.

Meanwhile, a Japanese satellite has measured carbon dioxide concentrations in major cities and their surrounding areas across the globe except for Japan, the Environment Ministry said Thursday, adding the numbers have not yet been verified.

Japan was not covered because no sufficient data were obtained.

Once sufficient amounts of data are collected via the Ibuki greenhouse gases observation satellite, accurate estimates of global carbon dioxide emissions could be possible, ministry officials said.

An analysis of data gathered by the satellite from June 2009 to December 2012 showed that seven non-Japanese places had especially high carbon dioxide concentrations.

The Los Angeles area topped the list with a maximum average of 4.5 parts per million, followed by the area including Tianjin and Harbin in China, with 3.8 ppm, and the area including eastern Uzbekistan, with 2.6 ppm.

The analysis signals crowded places and others that are actively engaged in thermal power generation and gas field development have high carbon concentrations, the official said.