Japan Emissions Targets Labelled Too Little, Too Late

Japan’s announcement to reduce its emissions by only 8 percent by 2020 completely lacks ambition and stands in the way of a fair global deal, which should save the world from the catastrophic impact of climate change, WWF said.

Prime Minister Taro Aso has been delaying the announcement of his country’s midterm target, confusing and holding up other countries which are trying to set an overall goal for greenhouse gas emissions of industrialized states.

What he offers now is simply not enough and puts the world in great danger, according to WWF.

“We have waited a long time for Japan to finally inform the world about its emissions plans; and today we were presented something dangerously lacking any level of ambition,” said Kim Carstensen, the leader of WWF’s Climate Initiative.

“The Japanese target translates to a reduction of only 2 percent below what Japan committed to in the Kyoto Protocol. This is a great shame, and it sets the wrong tone for the negotiations here in Bonn. Aso’s decision, influenced by polluters rather than the public, makes reaching a good deal even harder.”

In Bonn, delegates from around the world are negotiating a treaty to replace the commitments agreed to in the Kyoto Protocol, which is expiring in 2012.

Japan’s government announced its goal as a reduction of greenhouse gases by 15 percent by 2020, but this would translate into a drop of only 8 percent below 1990 levels and only 2 percent below Japan’s Kyoto target for 2008-2012.

The country has used 2005 as its base year, rather than 1990, which is the baseline year in the UN negotiations. The reason why Japan is doing this is because it has increased its emission by more than 7 percent instead of reducing it since 1990. This hides the lack of real action in Japan to implement the Kyoto Protocol

Scientists say industrialized countries as a whole need to reduce the emission by 25 to 40 percent compared to 1990 level by 2020, in order to prevent the world from overheating to dangerous levels, resulting in catastrophic impacts.

Japan argues that an 8 percent reduction would be ambitious given that Japan’s economy is relatively energy and carbon efficient. In WWF’s view, this is not a strong argument.

“It is true that Japan’s energy efficiency improved in the 1980s, during the oil crisis. Unfortunately, since 1990 most of the sector’s energy efficiency either stagnated or declined,” Carstensen said.

Japan also seems to believe that it’s 8 percent reduction target is much more ambitious than the other industrialized countries such as EU and the US, using cost analysis as a sole indicator for comparable effort.

WWF argues that the effort sharing should be based on capacity to act (with a criteria such as GDP/capita) and responsibility (current and historic emissions par capita) as well as cost analysis. According to all these criteria, Japan should contribute much more to the emission reduction range required from industrialized countries.

In WWF ‘s view, Aso should have listened to Japanese people’s voice who favoured a more ambitious target, such as a 25 percent reduction.

The poll conducted by internationally renowned polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner in May revealed that 60 percent Japanese favour a stronger target such as -25% .

“Aso should change his mind immediately and rise as a true leader by setting more than 25 percent reduction target towards the successful Copenhagen deal."

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