CLASH OVER JAPAN EMISSIONSBy Mure Dickie in Tokyo 2009-06-11
Japan has clashed with China over its efforts to combat global warming, with Beijing condemning as inadequate promised cuts in emissions of polluting greenhouse gases that were unveiled by Tokyo yesterday.
Taro Aso, Japanese prime minister, told the Financial Times that his country's targeted reduction of 15 per cent in emissions from 2005 levels by 2020 was “ambitious” and made Japan the world leader in the fight against climate change.
But the proposed cut in emissions by the world's second largest economy drew a sharp response from China's top climate envoy as well as from campaigners. The clash underscored the differences that the world's most industrialised nations must overcome if they are to agree a new climate change deal by the end of the year.
“I do not believe it is a number that is close to what Japan needs to do, should do,” Chinese climate envoy Yu Qingtai was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying in Bonn. Japan's pledge amounts to an 8 per cent reduction in its emissions from 1990 levels, far less than the 20 per cent cut promised by the European Union.
Mr Aso said in an FT interview that it would be “very irresponsible” to aim for greater cuts in emissions without considering the impact on the public and industry, especially since Japan's economy already led the world in energy efficiency. “We believe that the target we are setting is ambitious and will allow us to continue to take the leadership [role)] in the world community,” Mr Aso said.
The prime minister also stressed that Japan's 2020 target, unlike that of the EU, did not include any purchase of foreign “carbon credits” or the planting of forests to offset emissions.
The new target for Japan, which is the world's fifth-biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, was announced alongside talks in Bonn intended to pave the way for agreement on an international treaty on global warming in December to replace the 1997 Kyoto protocol, which expires in 2012.
However, the Japanese pledge only highlighted the gulf between rich and poor nations on how to curb carbon dioxide and other gases that have been blamed for global warming. China last month demanded that developed nations cut greenhouse emissions by 40 per cent by 2020 compared with 1990. Yesterday, it ended three days of talks with the US without measurable progress.
Though Japan has pledged to cut emissions by 60-80 per cent by 2050, the setting of the 2020 target has been long delayed by fierce disagreement between politicians, officials, business leaders and campaigners.