Japan Proposes 50% Cut in Worldwide Greenhouse Gas Emissions

May 25, 2007

Japan plans to propose cutting world greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050 in a bid to limit the effects of global warming, news reports said Thursday [May 24].

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was to announce the plan later in the day, and will present the proposal at an upcoming summit of industrialized nations in Heiligendamm, Germany, in June, the reports said.

The plan also calls for participation by leading gas-emitters United States, China and India in a global warming pact to take effect in 2013 after the Kyoto Protocol expires, Kyodo News agency and public broadcaster NHK reported.

They said Japan would push for a flexible framework to maximize participation. NHK said Japan would also push for expansion of nuclear power as a way of cutting emissions.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki confirmed the government was working on a plan, but refused to provide details or reveal the timing of its release. Abe, however, had a speech scheduled for later Thursday.

“Japan would like to make an active contribution to the environmental problem and climate change at the Heiligendamm summit and next year’s summit,” Shiozaki said. Japan is to host next year’s summit of the Group of Eight industrialized nations. “We are now working out the details and the prime minister plans to make his position clear to the public as early as possible,” Shiozaki added.

Japan, one of the world’s most energy efficient nations, has been a key promoter of the Kyoto Protocol, which was negotiated in the ancient Japanese capital of Kyoto in 1997. Under that pact, Japan is required to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 6 percent below its 1990 level by 2012, but is struggling to do so as its economy grows.

The United States has not joined the pact, arguing that such a framework is ineffective without participation from major emitters such as China and India. Those two developing countries are not required to cut emissions under the Kyoto Protocol.

Recent climate change discussions have focused on what kind of a pact should follow Kyoto in 2013. Proponents of cuts in emissions have pushed for discussion of a post-Kyoto pact at the June 6-8 Group of Eight summit in Germany and a climate change conference scheduled for December in the Indonesian Island of Bali.

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