Japan to consider emissions trading system
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will consider a scheme for trading greenhouse gas emissions, the government said on Friday, a week after a powerful business lobby and the trade ministry softened their strong opposition.
In a report of new steps aimed at slashing its greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Kyoto protocol, the government also proposed deeper but voluntary cuts for industry, adding to existing measures such as preserving forests and purchasing emissions rights from abroad.
The plan, revealed as Japan prepares to host a climate-focused G8 summit of industrialized nations in July, will be opened for public comment before it is officially adopted by the end of March.
A cap-and-trade system with mandatory emissions limits, long opposed by the Japan Business Federation, was mentioned in the plan as a topic for consideration in the near future, as were environmental taxes and the introduction of daylight saving time.
Environment Minister Ichiro Kamoshita warned other cabinet ministers that they might later be asked to cooperate with further cuts, an official said.
As the host of the conference that produced the Kyoto Protocol, Japan is anxious to improve its own emissions record, at present well adrift of its goal of an average 6 percent cut on 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012.
That means slashing emissions to 1.186 billion metric tons a year of carbon dioxide equivalent, although Japan actually emitted an estimated 1.359 billion metric tons in the year that ended in March 2006.
As it prepares to host G8 on the northern island of Hokkaido in July, Japan has been attempting to take a leading role in climate change, including by planning a major environmental conference ahead of the main summit, media reports have said.
The top U.N. climate change official said earlier this month it would be a disadvantage if Japan were to stay out of an otherwise universal cap-and-trade system in the future.
The business lobby's chairman, Fujio Mitarai, was reported this month as softening his opposition to cap-and-trade, while the trade ministry said it was seriously studying such an approach.
(Reporting by Isabel Reynolds and Chisa Fujioka; Editing by Mike Miller)