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Coordination on setting greenhouse gas reduction target at final stage

  • 2015-04-22 15:00:00
  • , Asahi
  • Translation

(Asahi: April 22, 2015 – p. 5)


 Coordination on setting a reduction target for greenhouse gas emissions for 2030 is approaching the homestretch. The two related ministries are at odds over the target figure. While the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is concerned about the impact on economy and wants to set the target at around 20-25%, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) wants to set it at around 25-30% so that Japan can fulfill its international obligation. The final decision will be made by the two ministries together with the Prime Minister’s Official Residence. A draft of the reduction target will be presented shortly and the government will make the final decision by the time of the G7 summit scheduled for June in which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will meet with international leaders.


 Three ministries are involved in drawing up the reduction target: MOE is in charge of global warming countermeasures, METI is responsible for energy policy, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is handling international negotiations.


 METI is in the midst of deliberations on the composition of the power sources that account for 40% of Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions. Currently, coordination is underway to set the ratio of nuclear power generation at 20-22%, which is below the level before the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred in 2011, and renewable energy at 21-23%, which would be higher than the ratio of nuclear power. METI is planning to set the ratio of relatively inexpensive “base load power sources,” such as nuclear and coal-burning power, at around 60%. However, the ministry will reduce the ratio of coal-fired power, which emits more carbon dioxide (CO2), and increase the ratio of gas-fired power. Based on this plan, the reduction target for greenhouse gas emissions will apparently be over 20%.


 On the other hand, MOE insists on setting a higher reduction target in view of the higher targets submitted by the European Union (40% reduction compared to 1990) and the U.S. (26-28% reduction compared to 2005). In order to realize “80% reduction by 2050” as decided by the cabinet, MOE has calculated that “29% reduction by 2030 will be necessary.”


 METI and MOE are also in disagreement on the baseline year. While METI argues that the baseline year should be changed from the previous 2005 to 2013 because the energy situation changed after the Great East Japan Earthquake, MOE makes the counterargument that “changing the baseline year will lead to a loss of international confidence in Japan.”


 Both of the reduction target figures have already been reported to Prime Minister Abe. The final reduction target will be decided by taking into consideration domestic circumstances such as the ratio of nuclear power generation and the impact on electricity fees, as well as developments in the international community. There is a possibility that the reduction target will be set at wider range rather than a single target figure. By announcing the government draft by the end of this month, Prime Minister Abe will explain it to international leaders at the G7 summit scheduled to be held in Germany in June.


 In order to create a new framework for countermeasures to global warming, the international community is aiming to reach an agreement in the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 21) to be held in Paris at the end of this year. Each country is supposed to submit its reduction target for greenhouse gas emissions for 2020 and beyond to the UN Secretariat prior to COP 21. As the proposed deadline for the submission required for advanced countries was the end of March, the EU and the U.S. have already submitted their reduction target figures, but Japan failed to meet the deadline.

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