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Japan Buys Credits

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How Japan Plans To Meet Kyoto Emissions-Cut Goal

Date: 26-Mar-09

Country: JAPAN

Author: Risa Maeda


The Japanese government has almost completed planned purchases of emissions offsets from abroad in a scheme under the Kyoto Protocol to supplement domestic efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

A government source said on Wednesday that Japan is set to seal a deal with the Czech Republic next week to buy 40 million metric tons of emissions rights from the east European country, with its proceeds to be spent on specific environment measures.

Once the Czech deal is completed, Japanese government purchases for the past three years will exceed 90 million metric tons, near its planned purchase of 100 million metric tons for delivery over the 2008-2012 Kyoto period.

Despite Tokyo's steady buying of offsets from abroad, there is speculation that emission cuts in Japan may prove insufficient, resulting in additional buying from abroad toward the end of the Kyoto period.

In the year to March 2008, Japan, the world's fifth-biggest greenhouse gas emitter, saw its emissions rise 2.3 percent to a record 1.37 billion metric tons in carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent.

Japan's Kyoto commitments are to cut emissions to 1.19 billion metric tons on average in the five years to March 2013, down 6 percent from the 1990 levels.

Japan aims to cut emissions to meet its commitments under the United Nations climate pact in two ways.

The government plans more forest conservation at home while investing in clean energy projects abroad which generates credits to offset emissions and buying surplus emissions rights from the other industrialized countries committed to Kyoto.

The other step is to seek voluntary pledges on emissions cuts by major industry sectors, including electricity generators and steel makers.

Unlike the European Union, Japan has been reluctant to impose a mandatory cap on companies' emissions because of past efforts by industry to conserve energy.

Following is a rough guide to measures being implemented by Japan to cut CO2-equivalent emissions (per year, average):


- Forest conservation - 48 million metric tons

- *Kyoto mechanism - 20 million metric tons


- **Electric power - about 100 million metric tons, including 38 million metric tons via *Kyoto mechanism

- ***Steel - 10-15 million metric tons, including 12 million metric tons via *Kyoto mechanism

- remaining emission cuts are up to other industrial sectors and households.

* The Kyoto mechanism refers to a United Nations scheme which allows rich-nation polluters to fund emission cuts in poorer or former communist countries and put them toward domestic carbon reduction targets or sell them for a profit.

** The electric power industry has a voluntary target to reduce CO2 emissions to 0.34 kg per kilowatt-hour.

But their emissions for the year ended in March 2008 averaged 0.45 kg per kilowatt hour, which means the sector still has to reduce emissions by around 100 million metric tons a year, based on the sector's estimated power generation of 931 billion kilowatt- hours a year between 2008/09 and 2012/13.

The electric power industry said in September the sector's purchase of offsets via Kyoto mechanism totaled 190 million metric tons for delivery over the five-year Kyoto period.

*** The steel industry said in October it had bought a total 59 million metric tons of offsets via Kyoto mechanism to help meet the sector's voluntarily pledged emissions target.

(Editing by Ben Tan)

© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved

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