NEW JAPANESE PREMIER WANTS 25% GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS CUT FROM 1990 LEVELS BY 2020

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7 september 2009

Hatoyama Says Japan to Reduce Greenhouse Gases 25%

By Takashi Hirokawa

Sept. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Prime minister-designate Yukio Hatoyama pledged to cut Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels, a more ambitious target than that of outgoing premier Taro Aso’s administration.

“We will change the government’s current policy based on our platform,” Hatoyama said today in a speech in Tokyo. His Democratic Party of Japan, which won a landslide election last week, promised to cut Japanese air pollution by a quarter over 30 years.

The goal is contingent with other countries adopting similar targets, Hatoyama said. The European Union is urging wealthy economies to cut greenhouse gases by 2020 under a new United Nations treaty to fight climate change. Almost 200 countries will meet in Copenhagen to forge an agreement that would replace the Kyoto Protocol after it expires in 2012.

“Our country can’t stop climate change even if we achieve our reduction targets,” Hatoyama said in his speech. “The world’s leading nations must strive for an international framework that is fair and effective.”

The DPJ on Aug. 31 ousted Aso’s Liberal Democratic Party, which had governed Japan for all but 10 months since 1955. Aso in June proposed reducing greenhouse gas emissions 8 percent by 2020, saying bigger cuts would hurt business competitiveness.

Keidanren, Japan’s biggest business lobby, has said it opposes any cut bigger than 6 percent. In May the group said a 4 percent increase from the 1990 level was the “most rational goal” in terms of viability and the financial burden on consumers.

Under the Kyoto agreement, Japan pledged a 6 percent cut from the 1990 level by 2012. Instead, emissions have risen 8.7 percent since then.

Determining how much affluent countries including EU members, Japan, the U.S. and Australia should reduce emissions is one of the hurdles to a new UN treaty. Other potential roadblocks include limits on discharges by emerging economies such as China and India and climate aid for the poorest countries.

[4C note: We have also received the following WWF commentary on this]

WWF Press Release

New emissions goal could make Japan climate leader

Tokyo, Japan: WWF welcomes today's announcement by incoming Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama to strengthen the country's emission reduction target, aiming at 25 percent cuts from 1990 levels by 2020.

According to the global conservation organization, one of the major industrialized countries raising its ambitions is an important signal at this crucial stage of the international climate negotiations. So far, targets set by the developed world have failed to reach the ambition levels necessary to protect people and nature from runaway climate change.

"The decision by an important player such as Japan to do more and get serious about low carbon future can help break the deadlock between developed and developing countries," said Kim Carstensen, the leader of the WWF Global Climate Initiative.

"The climate negotiations are at a critical point and we need urgent progress to get a fair, ambitious and binding deal in Copenhagen this December",

"Japan has now come into the range of reductions by 25-40 percent as recommended by the IPCC."

Hatoyama, Japan's Prime Minister elect since a landslide victory in the August elections, announced Japan's new midterm target at a Climate Symposium in Tokyo, in front of Rajendra Pachauri, the 2007 Nobel laureate and Chairman of the IPCC, and Yvo de Boer, Executive Director of the UNFCCC.

The incoming new leader further stated that he would confirm his country's stronger target in his speech at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on 22 September.

"Japan used to be the country driven by industry groups, but now we see a new Prime Minister with true leadership", said Takamasa Higuchi, CEO of WWF Japan.

"We welcome the courage of Yukio Hatoyama and believe he has the strength to set Japan on track for a low carbon future which will benefit people and nature, both in Japan and worldwide."

Taro Aso, the outgoing Prime Minister from the LDP, announced a 15 % reduction target by 2020 compared to 2005 levels in June 2009, a mere 8% cut compared to 1990 levels. At the time, WWF sharply criticized this weak target.

Now WWF expects the winning DPJ to realize its promises from the election manifesto, including the 25% cut from 1990 levels by 2020. Today's announcement indicates that the incoming Prime Minister stands to his word.

Contacts: Kim Carstensen, Director WWF Global Climate Initiative, +4540343635, k.carstensen@wwf.dk, Masako Konishi, Senior Climate Policy Adviser WWF Japan, +818030242536, konishi@wwf.or.jp


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