Japan drastically scales back greenhouse gas emissions target

Japan drastically scales back greenhouse gas emissions target
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga.

TOKYO - Japan said Friday it was dramatically scaling back its greenhouse gas emissions target after the Fukushima nuclear accident forced the country to turn to fossil-fuel burning energy sources.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the new target for 2020 - 3.8 per cent below 2005 levels - replaces an ambitious goal to slash emissions by one-quarter from 1990 levels, which had been hailed by environmentalists.

Japanese media said the new target - which accounts for idling the country's nuclear reactors after the worst atomic accident in a generation - represents a 3.0 per cent rise over levels in 1990, the base year for the Kyoto Protocol.

Suga, the government's top spokesman, said the earlier target set in 2009 by a centre-left government under then-prime minister Yukio Hatoyama was "totally unfounded".

"Our government has been saying... that the 25 per cent reduction target was totally unfounded and wasn't feasible," he told reporters in Tokyo.

Hatoyama had said the nation would slash its carbon emissions provided other major polluters such as China and the United States also made sharp reductions.

A foreign ministry official on Friday said the new target would likely be announced next week at a 12-day climate talks summit in Warsaw which kicked off on Monday.

"This is Japan's new international commitment,... which will be registered at the United Nations," the official said.

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