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Japan aims to cut emissions

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by Staff Writers
Tokyo (UPI) Mar 15, 2009
Japan's basic climate bill approved by the Cabinet is facing opposition from the industrial sector.

The bill incorporates reductions first pledged by Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama during his address to the United Nations last September when he said Japan would cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels by 2020.

However, the 25 percent reduction aim is based on the precondition that all major greenhouse gas-emitting nations will agree on a fair and effective international framework and ambitious goals.

Although Japan's draft legislation doesn't stipulate which industries will be affected, the industrial sector has opposed the bill, saying the emissions cuts will require companies to scale back industrial activities, adversely affecting earnings.

"We have been opposed to the stipulation of mid- and long-term reductions targets or other individual measures," a statement expressing opposition to the legislation by nine industry organizations, including the Japan Iron and Steel Federation and the Petroleum Association of Japan, said, The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper reports. "The Cabinet approval of the basic bill is extremely disappointing."

Japan's industrial sector emitted about 454 million tons of carbon dioxide in fiscal 2008, according to the Japan Business Federation. Although that figure represents a decrease of 10.5 percent from fiscal 1990, it the global economic crisis is responsible for the reduction, the federation notes.

While some Japanese polluters will face a flat ceiling on emissions, others will be subject to a limit per unit of production, according to a copy of the bill reporters received from the Environment Ministry, Bloomberg News reports.

The climate bill also calls for a possible carbon tax beginning in April 2011.

A cement industry trade group estimates the proposed "green" tax will cost the industry $331 million annually, or about 6 percent of the industry's current domestic annual sales and would deal "a huge blow to the industry," an industry official told the Shimbun newspaper.

The bill also calls for an expansion of nuclear generation and boosting the feed-in tariff so that it covers all renewable energy, including biofuels, as well as hydro, solar, wind and geothermal power.

Japan's feed-in tariff, introduced in November, requires utilities to purchase surplus solar power supplied to the grid by homes and businesses, paying as much as double the normal rate. The additional cost is reflected in higher power bills for consumers.

The legislation also calls for Japan to supply 10 percent of primary energy from renewable sources by 2020.

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Brussels (UPI) Mar 12, 2009
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