October 23, 2009 / 2:36 PM / 10 years ago

Japan may cut emissions by less than 25 percent

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan cautioned on Friday that it could water down planned 2020 cuts in greenhouse gas emissions if other rich nations fail to make deep reductions as part of a U.N. deal due in Copenhagen in December.

In Brussels, a draft report showed that European Union states were preparing to endorse an estimate by the European Commission that developing countries will need about 100 billion euros ($150.1 billion) annually by 2020 to tackle climate change.

Disputes over 2020 emissions cuts by developed nations and the amounts of cash to help developing nations combat global warming are among the main sticking points in sluggish U.N. talks meant to end in Denmark on December 18 with a new treaty.

“The possibility is not zero,” Japanese Environment Minister Sakihito Ozawa told Reuters when asked if Japan could change its 2020 target of cutting emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels if Copenhagen falls short on ambition.

He declined to say what alternative target Japan, the world’s fifth biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, had in mind for cutting emissions, mainly from burning fossil fuels.

Japan’s 25 percent offer made last month is tougher than that put forward by the previous government and among the deepest by any rich nation.

“As environment minister, I want to go ahead with this pledge, but the government announced it with a precondition at the United Nations (climate change summit last month) so of course it could change,” he said.

Many other nations have offered a range of cuts, hinging on Copenhagen’s outcome, but Tokyo has not given a fallback position. Its offer is premised on an ambitious goals by all major emitters, including China and the United States.

The U.S. Senate has not yet agreed a 2020 goal and is running short of time before Copenhagen.


Developing nations led by China and India say the rich need to make cuts averaging at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 to avoid the worst of climate change.

A draft EU report, seen by Reuters ahead of an EU summit on October 29-30, warned of mounting climate risks.

“The climate is changing faster than expected and the risks this poses can already be seen,” said the draft.

“We experience widespread melting of ice, rising global sea levels and increased frequency, intensity and duration of floods, droughts and heatwaves,” it said.

It said that 22-50 billion euros of that estimated 100 billion euros funding for developing nations from 2020 might have to come from the public purse, of which the EU would pay its fair share.

That would imply an EU contribution of 2-15 billion, but the draft stopped short of naming that key figure. Much could change in the text before the summit.

In Thailand, leaders of Asia-Pacific nations meet in Hua Hin for a weekend summit which is aiming to adopt a declaration on climate change alongside goals of a regional free trade pact.

And in Kenya, experts are planning to use satellites to measure the greenness of vegetation from space as a step to insure livestock herders against droughts that may become more common because of global warming.

“This is a new approach to tackle an old problem,” said Carlos Sere, head of the International Livestock Research Institute. If the landscape turns brown, farmers will get payouts for assumed deaths of cattle from drought.

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