September 16, 2009 / 6:25 PM / 10 years ago

Japan's carbon cuts may include offsets

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s target for a 25 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 could include purchases of carbon credits from abroad, the country’s new environment minister said on Thursday.

“I’d like to reiterate our party’s stance that we could use measures including the Kyoto mechanism,” Sakihito Ozawa, told a news conference, referring to a scheme to supplement domestic efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

The new government is currently working to cut emissions domestically and by investing in clean energy projects abroad which generate credits to offset emissions. It is also buying surplus emissions rights from other industrialized countries.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama last week pledged to forge ahead with the target to slash emissions despite resistance from industries worried about the impact on the economy.

He has said the target, much tougher than that of the previous government defeated in an election last month, is needed for Japan to play a bigger negotiating 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.

Ozawa reiterated Hatoyama’s stance that Japan’s new target also hinged on a deal on goals being agreed by major emitters.

But he declined to give details on how Japan would try to meet the target, including a plan to launch a domestic emissions trading market with compulsory volume caps on emitters.

Japan, the world’s fifth biggest 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 new energy, trade and industry minister Masayuki Naoshima told a separate news conference that the new emissions reduction target may also include domestic forest conservation.

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