December 6, 2009 / 9:07 AM / 10 years ago

Japan to stick CO2 goal, mull domestic steps: official

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan will stick to its 2020 target at upcoming talks to fight global warming while considering to reduce a cost burden on local CO2 emitting industries, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Tetsuro Fukuyama, said on Sunday.

The comments came in the face of growing concerns among companies here that if Japan, the world’s No.5 greenhouse gas emitter, promises a tough 2020 target in a deal to which other major emitting countries are not bound, that would hurt profits, in particular those of energy-intensive industries.

CO2 emissions usually increase in line with the usage of energy generated by fossil fuels.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has made it clear that Japan’s 2020 target to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels would be applied if all major emitters, such as China and the United States, agree with ambitious targets.

In October, the environment minister, Sakihito Ozawa, said in an interview with Reuters that Japan could lower the target if the conditions are not met.

Fukuyama, who will attend the December 7-18 meeting in Copenhagen along with Ozawa, reiterated that Japan would not agree with a post 2012 deal which binds only the Annex 1 parties under the Kyoto Protocol.

The United States never ratified Kyoto, which binds industrialized nations to emissions targets during its first commitment period from 2008 to 2012.

“We cannot accept an idea to simply extend the Kyoto Protocol. It is absolutely not,” Fukuyama said in an Asahi TV broadcasting program.

Fukuyama also said a minus 25 percent 2020 target could make Japan well prepared for a low carbon economy and “would not be irrational” when considering Japan’s 2050 target to cut emissions by 80 percent, the same goal the United States shared at a summit meeting of the two leaders in November.

The 80 percent cut by 2050 is in line with the G8’s aim of cutting its emissions by 80 percent by 2050 after a meeting of the eight rich countries in Italy in July.

But Fukuyama also said that the discussions over such stringent 2020 goals would not include China’s.

Hatoyama’s government has failed to wipe off concerns among companies and households over extra costs to cut emissions and struggled to decide a policy mix to reduce beyond the current Kyoto commitments over 2008-2012.

“I don’t want to talk about the impact (of the 2020 target) on industries in general,” Fukuyama said.

“We’ve never ruled out the possibility that we take measures in favor of energy-intensive industries, or large CO2 emitters, because so do the EU and the U.S. (on these industries),” Fukuyama said, adding among possible steps are tax benefits on companies spending more on energy conservation.

Reporting by Risa Maeda; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani

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