(For related story, click on [ID:nT38553])
June 1 (Reuters) - Japan's Prime Minister Taro Aso faces the country's toughest climate change challenge in more than a decade this month when he sets a 2020 target to cut greenhouse gas emissions from the world's fifth-biggest emitter.
A panel of experts, professors and industry officials has presented Aso with a choice of six target options.
It said curbing emissions by regulations or other measures would boost energy costs, increase job losses and have a net negative impact on the economy.
The panel also referred to the cost of inaction and other advantages, including new demand for green products and jobs, which were, however, not fully assessed in the six scenarios. Here are some details about the options.
2020 targets compared with 1990 levels, with those compared with 2005 levels in brackets
1) Plus 4 percent (minus 4 percent):
The government allows current trends of sales of low-emission goods and machines and usage of alternative energy sources. This is comparable in cost with proposals from the European Union and the United States.
2) Plus 1 to minus 5 percent (minus 6 to minus 12 percent): A comparable target for Japan with other rich nations in terms of cost if rich nations agree to meet a 25-percent cut from 1990 levels, the minimum sought by a U.N. panel of scientists to minimise the risk of the worst impacts of global warming.
3) Minus 7 percent (minus 14 percent): The government takes additional policy measures to encourage companies and consumers to buy as much low-emission equipment as possible.
4) Minus 8 to minus 17 percent (minus 13 to minus 23 percent): A comparable target for Japan with other rich nations in terms of cost relative to gross domestic product, if rich nations agree to a 25-percent cut from 1990 levels.
5) Minus 15 percent (minus 21 to minus 22 percent): The government either regulates or taxes to force companies and consumers to buy low-emission goods and machines when they replace old ones.
6) Minus 25 percent (minus 30 percent): The government forces almost all companies and consumers to replace existing equipment with low-emission equipment.
KYOTO TARGET: Minus 6 percent from 1990 levels to an average 1.186 billion tonnes from 2008 to 2012.
Besides emission-cut efforts by industry sectors and households, Japan plans to rely on emissions offsets the central government and energy intensive industry sectors buy from abroad, 1.6 percent and 5.6 percent per year respectively.
The target also includes a 3.8 percent cut per year from forest conservation in Japan.
REALITY: 16 percent above Kyoto target
Japan's greenhouse gas emissions rose 2.4 percent to a record 1.374 billion tonnes in its fiscal year to March 2008, a final government figure showed in April, exceeding the country's Kyoto target by 188 million tonnes or 15.9 percent.
REQUESTS TO RICH NATIONS FOR 2020 TARGET FROM DEVELOPING COUNTRIES: minus 25 to minus 40 percent from 1990 levels.
OPPOSITION DEMOCRATIC PARTY TARGET BY 2020 (election due by October): Minus 25 percent from 1990 levels.
"When the Democrats take power, the basic stance is 25 percent, but that isn't 100 percent definite. We think 25 percent is desirable, but an agreement that includes the public is necessary," Secretary-General Katsuya Okada told Reuters in an interview last week.
"The EU has a target of 20 percent but would increase that to 30 percent if other countries join in. So, looking ahead to the negotiations in December, I think it would be good (for Japan) to have a range." (For related story, click on [ID:nT218064])
PROPOSALS FOR 2020 BY BUSINESS LOBBIES: proposals varied from minus 7 percent to plus 4 percent from 1990 levels. (Reporting by Risa Maeda, additional reporting by Linda Sieg; Editing by Ben Tan)
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