From: Reuters
Published February 27, 2008 10:42 AM

Japan and Russia take steps to trade emissions rights

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan on Wednesday stepped up its plans to buy greenhouse gas emissions rights from Russia, to help Tokyo meet its emissions limits under the Kyoto Protocol on global warming.

The U.N.-run Kyoto treaty allows industrialized countries to meet greenhouse gas targets between 2008 and 2012 by buying emissions rights from each other or from developing nations.

Two such trading schemes force the buyer to fund emissions cuts in return for receiving the carbon offsets.

A third, more controversial scheme allows industrialized countries which are comfortably within their Kyoto emissions caps to sell the difference to other industrialized nations, in a trade which is not necessarily related to any emissions cuts.

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It is that third route which Japan discussed with Russia in bilateral talks in Tokyo.

Russia said it would set up a domestic legal framework to allow Moscow to sell its surplus emissions rights, said Hiroshi Oe, deputy director general for global issues at Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Japan late last year signed a memorandum of understanding with Hungary to buy the European country's surplus allowance for emissions in exchange for green investment.

Tokyo is in talks on similar deals with other countries including Poland, the Czech Republic and Ukraine.

Japan originally aimed to buy some 20 million tonnes a year of emissions rights from 2008 and 2012 using the three Kyoto emissions trading options, to make up for cuts it couldn't make through domestic efforts alone.

But that figure could grow as Japan's emissions in the year ended March 2007 already exceeded its Kyoto cap by some 155 million tonnes in carbon dioxide equivalent.

Japan and Russia also agreed that a successor to the Kyoto treaty after 2012 should bind the world's major greenhouse gas emitters, said Oe. Kyoto only binds some 36 industrialized nations.

Japan says that a more flexible approach is required than the numerical emissions caps under Kyoto to make it easier for developing countries and others to join in.

"We explained our post-Kyoto proposals, and Russia showed basically no objection," said Oe, of the first secretarial talks on climate change between the two countries.

"It was the Russian side which started a conversation, and said that it's not a good idea to repeat the same failure of Kyoto," Oe said in a briefing to reporters.

His counterpart was A.S. Totskiy, deputy general director, the Ministry of Natural Resources' international corporation department.

(Reporting by Risa Maeda, editing by Gerard Wynn)

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