Japan names top polluters in survey

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan on Friday unveiled a nationwide survey of top greenhouse gas emitting factories and offices in fiscal 2006/07, part of a campaign to encourage individual companies to fight climate change.

Burning coke, which will be combined with iron ore, is transported to a heat recovering system at the Nippon Steel Corp. Kimitsu steel mill in Kimitsu, Japan, February 6, 2008. Japan on Friday unveiled a nationwide survey of top greenhouse gas emitting factories and offices in fiscal 2006/07, part of a campaign to encourage individual companies to fight climate change. REUTERS/Michael Caronna

The survey showed JFE Steel Corp was the No.1 polluter of 60.3 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent in the year ended in March 2007, followed by three of its peers --- Nippon Steel Corp, Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd and Kobe Steel Ltd.

Taiheiyo Cement Corp came fifth, and Nippon Oil Corp, sixth.

Unlike Europe, which imposes a mandatory cap-and-trade scheme of emissions on individual firms, Japan has encouraged voluntary pledges from industries to meet the national commitment under the Kyoto Protocol, the current U.N.-led global climate pact.

The pledges, aiming to meet Japan’s commitments to cut emissions by 6 percent from 1990 levels over the 2008-2012 period, are not legally binding. But missing the target would require a company to pay a penalty to the government in the form of U.N. approved emission credits.

Analysts said the first corporate-level survey on emissions would help corporate managers and employees to realize their own duty for the industry they belong to meet the agreed target.

“Publishing a list of company names for the first time suggests there may be a change in Japan’s policy direction,” said Masaki Mita, Japan Representative of Argus Media Ltd, British energy research company.

“It looks that there’s a sign that the government is preparing itself to ask each company to set its own action plan, instead of that of an industry as a whole,” he said.


As for electric power companies, the survey showed emission volumes including those derived from electricity users.

Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc was by far the biggest industry emitter of 68.9 million tons in CO2 equivalent.

The electric power industry is struggling to meet its voluntary target to cut CO2 output per kilowatt hour of electricity by 20 percent to 0.34 kg on average by 2010/11.

The industry only managed to cut the CO2 unit to 0.41 kg on average in fiscal 2006/07 from 0.42 kg a year ago.

There are signs recently that some corporate managers seek more compulsory measures as rich nations are expected to bind themselves to further emission cuts after the Kyoto period.

A powerful business lobby, Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Keizai Doyukai), proposed on Thursday the government consider an introduction of carbon trading if fair standards of emission caps are sought.

In the survey, a total 7,505 large- and medium-sized companies reported on their warming-blamed emissions, excluding emissions at their overseas offices and factories, and so did 1,439 transport operators based in Japan.

Their emissions totaled 640.25 million tons in CO2 equivalent. That is compared with total emissions in Japan, the world’s fifth-biggest, of 1.341 billion tons for the year, a macro-economy based preliminary data showed in November.

“We conducted the poll last spring, based on the revised climate change law in fiscal 2004/05,” Yutaka Fujiwara, director at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s (METI) environment and economy office, told reporters on the survey jointly conducted with the Ministry of Environment.

“We’d like to make it better every year from now on.”