Japan sets 26 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions as target

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan said on Friday it would slash its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 percent by 2030 from 2013 levels and would submit the plan to the United Nations later in the day as its contribution to a global summit on climate change in Paris in November.

The target is based on the government’s power generation plan for 2030 that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) finalised on Thursday. The plan calls for relying slightly less on nuclear power than on renewable energy following the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Using 2013 as a baseline, Japan’s 26 percent cut would be higher than an 18 to 21 percent cut by the United States by 2025 and a 24 percent cut by the European Union by 2030.

Japan - the world’s fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases - saw its emissions rise to 1.41 billion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent, the second-highest on record, in the year through March 2014. That was up 10.8 percent from 1990, reflecting a rise in coal-fired power after the indefinite closure of nuclear power plants.

Green activists and some other countries that are calling for even bigger cuts say Japan will be blamed by global communities not only for a low target, but also for plans to build more coal-fired plants at home.

The trade ministry on Thursday said the government would plan to make nuclear energy account for 20 to 22 percent of Japan’s electricity mix in 2030, versus 30 percent before Fukushima. It set the target for renewable energy at 22 to 24 percent of the mix, liquefied natural gas at 27 percent and coal at 26 percent.

Japan’s Federation of Electric Power Companies, whose members include the 10 main power monopolies, and 25 other firms said on Friday they had voluntarily set a goal to curb CO2 emissions per 1 kilowatt of power by 35 percent from 2013 levels to around 0.37 kg in 2030.

By installing fossil fuel-fired plants using the best available technology, the power companies see a potential to reduce CO2 emissions by as much as 11 million tonnes a year, they said.

The Paris summit in November aims to finalize an agreement as part of efforts to limit the global average temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Tom Hogue