Japan emissions target hinges on international deal

TOKYO (Reuters) - The greenhouse gas emissions target for 2020 set by Japan’s incoming Democratic Party government is based on the premise that there will be an international agreement including China and India, a party executive said on Friday.

The party, promising a more aggressive green policy than the outgoing government, has called for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels, although the target faces resistance from industries.

“This is not something Japan will do on its own,” party secretary-general Katsuya Okada said in an interview with Reuters. “The premise is an agreement that includes other countries such as China and India.”

In June, Japan’s outgoing government set a target for a 15 percent reduction in emissions by 2020 compared with 2005 levels, which is equivalent to an 8 percent cut from a 1990 baseline.

Okada, who will soon step down as party No.2 but is expected to take up a key post such as finance minister in the new cabinet, said the 25 percent target for Japan was only natural given an agreement at the G8 summit to cut developed countries’ emissions by 80 percent by 2050.

He added that the new government would urge business groups to accept the target.

“We will persuade them,” said Okada, who has long led the party’s discussions on climate policy.

For a graphic comparing international greenhouse gas cutting targets, click

Top business group Keidanren is set to lobby against the Democrats’ emissions targets, a newspaper reported this week, while the auto industry lobby has said it is concerned about the feasibility of the target.

Japan, the world’s fifth-largest greenhouse gas emitter, is under pressure for tougher climate policies after its emissions rose 2.3 percent to a record in the year to March 2008, putting the country 16 percent above its Kyoto Protocol target.

The Democratic Party has also said a tough 2020 target is needed for Japan to play a bigger role in U.N.-backed climate talks in Copenhagen in December.

The talks will try to work out a new agreement on reducing emissions to succeed the current Kyoto Protocol, the first phase of which ends in 2012.

For a graphic of Japan's CO2 emissions, click

Asked if Japan would change its target in the absence of an international agreement, Okada said: “We are trying to reach an agreement so we are not discussing what to do in the absence of an agreement.”

Industrialized nations are planning average cuts in greenhouse gas emissions of between 10 and 14 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 as part of a new U.N. climate pact, according to a compilation of national data.

Analysts doubt Japan’s new ruling party will back down from its emissions target after it was featured in its campaign platform, but some are skeptical of the new government’s ability to implement an array of promised green policies.

To reduce emissions, the party plans to create a domestic emissions trading market with compulsory volume caps on emitters and introduce a “feed-in” tariff for renewable energy to help expand capacity for clean energy sources.

It is also considering introducing a carbon tax but other campaign pledges such as a plan to eliminate highway tolls and to end a decades-old surcharge on gasoline have drawn concern from green groups.

Reporting by Linda Sieg; Writing by Chisa Fujioka, Isabel Reynolds; Editing by Joseph Radford