Kate Mackenzie Japan’s newfound emissions enthusiasm

Japan’s incoming government has pledged to stand by its target of reducing emissions 25 per cent from 1990 levels, by 2020, despite opposition from business groups.

Japan tends to argue that, because it is already very energy efficient, it should not have to sign up to such big emissions cuts as some of its developed-world peers. The previous government’s target of 15 per cent reduction from 2005 levels – or, 8 per cent reduction on 1990 levels – by 2020 drew much criticism from environmental groups.

So a speech today by Yukio Hatoyama, the incoming prime minister, promising to stick by the party’s manifesto goal of a 25 per cent reduction, represents a big change. But how will it be received by the rest of the world?

As the WSJ’s Environmental Capital noted last week, Hatoyama’s party, Democratic Party of Japan, made this commitment contingent on big cuts from other countries -  and today’s speech has reiterated that condition:

The incoming prime minister stressed that the goal would be contingent on other nations making strong commitments to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

At the same time, he was positive on support for developing countries, which is very important to many countries that will be attending Copenhagen – not least China:

He said industrialised nations would offer “financial and technological support” to developing countries and that as soon as he took office he would “begin studying” concrete steps to be brought together as the Hatoyama Initiative for international co-operation on the issues.

The speech, however, was short of specifics.

Related links:

Moral arguments build ahead of Copenhagen (FT Energy Source, 03/09/09)
The ‘clean tech race’ and China-US climate talks (FT Energy Source, 06/08/09)
Climate talks: What India, China and Brazil want (FT Energy Source, 29/04/09)