Japan's Tepco says to review CO2 emissions goal
TOKYO (Reuters) - Tokyo Electric Power Co, the operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, said on Tuesday it wants to reconsider its goal on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, raising the risk that other Japanese power firms might be forced to make more emission cuts or buy more offsets from abroad in the coming months.
Tokyo Electric, known as Tepco, has burned more fossil fuels than planned, boosting emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), to make up for lost capacity since the March earthquake and tsunami damaged two of its three nuclear plants.
If Tepco, Japan's biggest utility, gives up its goal to cut CO2 emissions per unit of electricity by 20 percent over 2008-2012 compared with 1990 levels, it could force other power firms make up the gap and help Japan to meet its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol.
"We'd like to consider what to do about our minus 20 percent goal because conditions are too tough to meet that goal," said Naoki Tsunoda, a Tepco spokesman.
"We can no longer say that we'll keep our goal of minus 20 percent or if we'll try to meet it. It is still unclear what our conclusion will be," he said.
The power industry as a whole, which accounts for about one-fourth of Japan's CO2 emissions, has set a goal to cut CO2 per kilowatt hour by 20 percent on average over the five years to March 2013 from 1990/91 levels.
The industry's emission cuts are the core part of Tokyo's plans for the world's fifth-biggest emitter to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 6 percent on average over the same five-year period from 1990/91 levels.
The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan declined to comment, saying it is too early as Tepco has not yet reached a conclusion.
In a Reuters survey of Japan's 10 regional utilities recently only Tepco mentioned the possibility of changing or ignoring an already-pledged goal.
Chubu Electric Power Co, which at the government's request suspended operations at its sole Hamaoka nuclear plant in May due to the risk of a major earthquake hitting the area, has said it would be difficult to meet its self-pledged goal.
Similarly, CO2 emissions of several other utilities are rising as public anxiety over safety has kept reactors which shut due to the quake or for regular maintenance from restarting since the March 11 disaster.
(Reporting by Risa Maeda; Editing by Michael Watson)
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