(For related story, factbox, click [ID:nT183553] [ID:nT261487])
* To include emission offsets from abroad, like EU does
* Japan 2020 target relative to 2005 levels, like US target
(Adds quotes, background)
By Risa Maeda
TOKYO, June 24 Japan is ready to give technical and financial support to help developing nations cut their greenhouse gas emissions in a move that could help it revise up its recently announced emissions cut target by 2020, the environment minister said on Wednesday.
Governments worldwide are currently in talks to agree a new U.N. climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol. One issue they are looking at is whether and how to enhance market mechanisms under Kyoto to enable rich countries to help others reduce emissions and in exchange receive emissions offsets.
Japan, the world's fifth-biggest greenhouse gas emitter, has been under pressure from developing nations to go for deep greenhouse gas reductions by 2020 to show leadership in talks for a climate deal due to be agreed in Copenhagen in December.
When Prime Minister Taro Aso unveiled Japan's 2020 target of cutting emissions 15 percent below 2005 levels on June 10, he said it would be achieved solely through domestic efforts to save energy and use renewable energy sources. He added that methods such as funding emission cuts abroad would be considered for additional cuts as the U.N. talks progressed.
Minister of the Environment Tetsuo Saito said on Wednesday he expected any additional cut to the 2020 target of 15 percent below 2005 levels would be larger than corresponding additional cuts under the Kyoto pact.
Under the 2008-2012 Kyoto Protocol, Japan committed itself to cut emissions by 6 percent below 1990 levels. Of that, it is allowed to exclude a 5.4 percent cut from domestic industry and household efforts and count partly on Tokyo's buying of emissions offsets from abroad.
"I expect to see further additions to this level as we take into account current international discourses over technical and financial assistance to developing countries," Saito said, referring to the waiver allowed under the Kyoto pact.
2005 AS BASE YEAR
The European Union has promised to cut emissions by at least 20 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels, which is equivalent to a 14 percent cut from 2005 levels and that includes payments to fund emissions cuts abroad.
Japan's recently announced a 2020 target equivalent to a cut of only 8 percent from 1990 levels as the world's second-biggest economy improves energy efficiency by then.
Asked why Prime Minister Aso used 2005 as a base year, Saito said it was meant for the national audience to understand the significance of upcoming emission cuts.
Saito, the sole cabinet member from New Komeito, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party's coalition partner, also said Japan was willing to take the same stance with the United States.
"It is absolutely critical for the United States to take part in the next climate framework, and we, the Japanese government, have decided to coordinate with the United States, which has set its base year as 2005," Saito said.
In the United States, which vies with China for the world's biggest polluter, President Barack Obama aims to cut emissions by 14 percent by 2020 from 2005 levels.
The fate of any target Aso's coalition government picks is uncertain as opinion polls show the opposition Democratic Party may win a general election that must be held by October. [ID:nPOLJP]
The main opposition party has advocated setting a target of a 25 percent reduction from 1990 levels, although whether it would stick to that stance once in office is unclear. (Editing by James Jukwey)