A few days after announcing it was cutting back on its commitment targets for lowering greenhouse gas emissions, the Japanese government will reportedly be releasing figures that show it has actually met the Kyoto Protocol requirements through tree-planting and buying carbon credits. This will be announced by Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara during the ongoing United Nations meeting in Warsaw to create a global climate pact.
In fact, sources say Japan was able to meet the 6% target under the protocol that was established in 1997 by achieving an 8.2% cut on greenhouse gas and carbon emissions if basing it on the fiscal 1990 baseline. This was probably due to the global financial crisis in 2009, forest absorption and the purchase of carbon credits overseas. However, this is only for the first commitment period and by 2011, Japan’s greenhouse emissions have been steadily rising due to the fact that most of its nuclear plants went offline after the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and subsequent nuclear meltdown in Fukushima. Utilities had to switch to thermal power generation to provide power to the country, but these have caused an increase in carbon dioxide emissions. Japan has decided not to join the second commitment period under the protocol, which will take eight years, as they feel it does not have an effective framework, citing the fact that major gas-emitting countries like the United States and China are not part of the reduction efforts.
Japan is the world’s fifth-biggest greenhouse gas emitter, and the news that they have set back by 3.8% their target by 2020 from the baseline of 2005 levels was met with a lot of criticism. “It could further accelerate the race to the bottom among other developed countries when the world needs decisive and immediate actions to ‘‘raise’’ ambition, not to ‘‘lower’’ ambition,” said Naoyuki Yamagishi, WWF Japan’s leader for its climate and energy group.
[ via Yahoo ]