Japan to propose green technology, funding: minister

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama will unveil a plan to support developing countries in technology and funding to fight climate change at a U.N. meeting this week, Japan’s environment minister said on Sunday.

Japan's newly appointed Environment Minister Sakihito Ozawa speaks during a news conference at the prime minister's official residence in Tokyo early September 17, 2009. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Speaking ahead of Hatoyama’s U.S. trip, Sakihito Ozawa also said Japan would work toward its own bold goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions by outlining the economic rewards of shifting to clean energy to persuade firms wary of initial costs.

“The ‘Hatoyama Initiative’ will be announced at the United Nations, and everyone should have high hopes for this,” Ozawa told reporters.

Hatoyama said this month the initiative would provide financial and technological support to developing nations working proactively to reduce emissions, but has not made clear what funds or the sort of technology would be provided.

Japan’s government, which took office last week, is aiming to play a bigger negotiating role in U.N.-backed talks in December for a new agreement on reducing emissions to replace the Kyoto Protocol, the first phase of which ends in 2012.

The talks have run into deadlock on issues such as sharing out curbs on greenhouse gases among rich and poor nations, and raising funds to help developing countries tackle global warming.

Ozawa declined to elaborate on the new scheme for developing countries, but hoped it would be an incentive for big emerging economies such as China and India to join a new climate agreement.


Developing countries have insisted that industrialized countries shoulder most of the cost of resolving a problem they caused in the first place.

“I think the Hatoyama Initiative will be one big tool,” said Ozawa, who will join Hatoyama this week for the U.N. meeting of world leaders on climate change and a G20 summit of leading and emerging economies in Pittsburgh.

A former banker and an expert on economic policy, Ozawa said he would also work at home to persuade businesses and the public to build toward a target of cutting emissions by 25 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels.

The target, much tougher than the previous government’s, faces resistance from industry as Japan emerges from its deepest postwar recession. Media have stressed the burden on households to install new equipment such as solar panels.

“I want to outline an (economic) model that shows that climate change is not necessarily negative for the economy, but that it could rather be a driver for growth,” he said.

He said he hoped to draft a plan outlining the economic model within the next two months.

Details on policies, including an environment tax, to help Japan meet its new emissions reduction target would be subject to discussion with other cabinet ministers, Ozawa said.

The new government is also planning to launch a domestic emissions trading market with compulsory volume caps on emitters, although details such as which sectors will be covered have yet to be thrashed out.

Editing by Ron Popeski