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RPT-INTERVIEW-Tokyo eyes pioneer emissions trade scheme for 2010

(Repeats from Friday without changes)

BEIJING, Feb 22 (Reuters) - Tokyo could set up a pioneering emissions trading scheme by the end of the decade, a city official said, potentially adding to pressure for a nationwide exchange but also providing a model for the country.

The ambitious city government hopes, by 2020, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to three-quarters of 2000 levels through Japan's first major venture into the cap-and-trade system now supported by most rich nations.

It would follow in the steps of local authorities elsewhere, such as the U.S. state of California, that have tired of foot-dragging by national officials over tackling the emissions that are blamed for global warning.

These local governments are taking the economic gamble of going ahead with their own stricter controls.

"The Japanese government doesn't have a clear plan or effective measures to reduce carbon dioxide emissions drastically," said Kazuya Tanada, director for the environmental policy division at the Tokyo metropolitan government.

"We think that Tokyo should become a low-carbon society as soon as possible and take a leadership role in reducing emissions," he told Reuters in an email interview.

He added that local government measures to reduce sulphur levels in oil and to clean up emissions from diesel-burning vehicles had eventually been picked up by the central government, providing an encouraging model.

Tokyo's governor Shintaro Ishihara is a prize-winning author and former ruling party politician known for his efforts to clean up the city's air, as well as for his tough talk against China.

Advocates of unilateral cap-and-trade schemes say forcing firms to invest in greener technology can foster inventiveness, save costs from energy and infrastructure build-out and make a city or state more competitive in the long-term.

2010 START EYED

Japan's biggest city with 12.8 million residents, Tokyo was responsible for 5 percent of the nation's total emissions in the year to March 2006.

It introduced a carbon dioxide reduction programme in 2002, which required large businesses to submit emissions-cutting plans, Tanada said, so the city had a good grasp of current emissions levels that it can use to set quotas.

It has also held three rounds of stakeholder meetings and now hopes to revise its emissions-cutting regulations in the 2008 financial year, which runs from April 2008 to March 2009.

"We expect that the new scheme could start in financial year 2010," Tanada said.

The older scheme covers any energy users in the sprawling metropolis that consume energy equivalent to 1,500 kilolitres of oil (around 9,400 barrels) or more each year, and the new plan is likely to set a similar standard, he added.

This will mean around 1,300 institutions ranging from office buildings to department stores, factories and hotels will have to join -- although power plants are exempt.

The government is interested in sharing information about the scheme, Tanada said. Although it has been opposed by the country's most powerful business lobby, the Keidanren, industry's staunch rejection of cap-and-trade schemes may be wavering.

Keidanren Chairman Fujio Mitarai was quoted on Thursday as saying that Japan should "discuss the matter, taking into account global trends, particularly in Europe and the United States". (Reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison; editing by Ken Wills)

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