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Japan Failing To Achieve Greenhouse Gas Emission Target; Transportation Emissions up 50% from 1990

Greenhouse gas emissions 1990-2005. Click to enlarge.

Nikkei. Japan is at risk of falling well short of its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, with fiscal 2005 combined discharges of all greenhouse gases having increased 8.1% from fiscal 1990 levels.

Carbon dioxide emissions rose 13.3% to 1,296.7 million tons in 2005, according to preliminary data released by the Ministry of Environment. Corporate efforts to save energy are reaching their limits amid a lack of new countermeasures, while exhaust from automobiles and households continues to grow.

Emissions from passenger cars and aircraft both rose 50% from fiscal 1990 to fiscal 2004. Automobiles and planes emit about 10 times and six times as much carbon dioxide as trains per passenger mile, respectively. Only about 10% of travelers used airlines between Tokyo and Osaka in fiscal 1990, but the ratio had doubled to nearly 20% by fiscal 2004.

Under the international protocol, which took effect last year, Japan is obligated to slash average greenhouse gas emissions for fiscal 2008-2012 by 6% from fiscal 1990 levels. Emissions must be cut by 13% from the current level to meet this goal.

“Achieving the target will be difficult,” says an Environment Ministry official.

On Nov. 21, the Japan Business Federation—Nippon Keidanren—plans to adopt new rules requiring member firms to reduce emissions. The organization will urge those failing to reach their goals to purchase emission credits.

At current market prices, it would cost businesses around ¥80 billion (US$677 million) to buy the allowances necessary to meet the target through credits alone.



You would think as the host nation for the original Kyoto talks that Japan would try harder. Since most participating countries have failed to meet targets I guess the penalty clauses won't be invoked. On top of that there is some debate on the validity of offsets such as tree planting. All the same I expect Bolivia or whomever to be suddenly offered big bucks/yen to save trees. Let's hope Kyoto v.2 works better than v.1, then v.3 works better than v.2 and so on.

Paul Dietz

All the same I expect Bolivia or whomever to be suddenly offered big bucks/yen to save trees.

And correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't those selling the credits responsible for ensuring they're real, not the buyers?

Sid Hoffman

Japan... Hypocrites.


Japan... Hypocrites.

Nice broad brush there.


the way I see it the referee implements the rules of the game. This goes for the Asia Pacific (AP6) voluntary regulation scheme as well as Kyoto. If the rules need to be changed it's up to the referee including the case where we act as our own referee. Since I believe major carbon offsets will be discredited it comes back to simply burning less fossil fuel in the first place.


At least we have the targets. If we had no targets and just sailed on blythly, we would be in an even worse pickle than we are currently.
The trick is to get the CO2 down without wrecking the world (and local) economies.


The problem is that carbon fuels are useful to human beings, If you reduce emmissions in one sector, there's no guarantee that people won't find an economic use of it in another, or even the same sector in another country. Kyoto a little bit like the fairground game where you have to whack the heads of the snakes that pop up with a rubber mallet.

Much better to tackle the problem directly by having an internationally agreed carbon tax.

Rafael Seidl

Sid -

there may be a cultural difference here. Anglo-Saxons tend to think of international treaties as law that are to be obeyed. If it looks as though that will not be possible, they don't sign up to them in the first place.

Much of the rest of the world tends to interpret such treaties - except for outright prohibitions - as formal declarations of sincere intent, to be lived up to as well as possible. Failure is not so much a crime as an embarrassment. Clearly, Kyoto almost certainly will not prove sufficient to produce the desired result. Perhaps it really just shows how immature the concept of a market in emissions still is. In particular, handing out certificates free of charge to existing industries was politically expedient but has led to low prices and hence, little effect. Personally, I've always considered emissions certificates the modern-day equivalent of medieval indulgences, a moral hazard best avoided altogether.

If we decide we really want to curb GHG emissions substantially, it must become gradually, predictably and irreversibly more expensive to produce them - preferably via straightforward taxes at the national level. Of course, increasing the burden related to asset degradation is only possible if you simultaneously cut taxes on wealth generation (aka income). The point is not to tax more heavily but to do so according to a new philosophy. Unfortunately and regardless of the mechanism, once GHG emissions start costing serious money, there will also be a strong temptation to commit fraud. Law enforcement and the criminal justice system will need new tools to deal with that.

Countries that refuse to participate at all should suffer second-class terms of trade, e.g. revocation of MFN status in the US. There can be no free riders on this global environmental issue, though clearly there is great scope for discussion about the fair distribution of the burden.


I expect that the increase in the overall modest energy use in Japan is partially caused by an increase in spending on infrastructure fueled by borrowing. They can't keep this up forever (nor can we). Necessary improvements (aging population, higher standards) to the relatively shabby housing sector also fueled emissions. Housing which formerly had little heating or cooling capacity is being retrofitted or replaced. The Japanese are rediscovering their countryside as a place to live, not just to visit. This means more kilometers driven in mini-cars. The Kyoto target for Japan was pie-in-the-sky. As to domestic air travel, the routes which share high speed rail service can be punitively taxed(historically acceptable). Overall, they're doing well with energy.

Mark A

Perhaps the US and Australia are smarter than they are given credit for, in not ratifying the Kyoto agreement, as this agreement is appearing to be unattainable. The US and Australia are making some small strides in improving quality, but its a major undertaking. Dont need an agreement to achieve that.

I also dont understand how companies that are purchasing emission credits, to be able to reach unattainable emission goals, are going to make the air, our air, any cleaner. All it does is shift/dilute blame to someone who is less liable to blame. The air still stays the same.........

Harvey D.


Yes, buying the right to pollute may sound immoral but fits so well with our North American culture, where just about everything has a price and can be bought.

Secondly, brokers like second generation Emron, could make a killing buying and selling questionable GHG certificates.

There is not much hope to reduce GHGs unless polluters start to pay heavily for the damage they do, starting with gas guzzlers, all users of fossil fuel, electrical + heat energy from polluting sources such as coal etc etc.


Meanwhile China will pass the US in CO2 emissions a decade ahead of schedule, in 2009.


Canada commitment to Kyoto treaty is lenient at best. But for US you are 200% right. There are zillion layers employed by environmental advocacy groups, which will sue to death just everybody for non-compliance.

Harvey D.


Did you know that 47% of Canada's GHG growth come from Alberta + Sask Oil - Tar Sands - Natural gas direct and indirect activities, to produce oil and gas for export?

Ontario, with numerous older coal fired power plants, is responsible for almost 1/3 the GHG growth. The solution is more nuclear plants, more wind power, convert coal to natural gas, purchase hydro power from neighbours + an effective energy conservation program?

Without addressing those two majors GHG sources, Canada will never come close to Kyoto's commitments. Meanwhile, our current PM runs away from international environmental meetings..



Nuclear power plants to reduce GHG emissions? Forget it. It was the same folks who halted nuclear power who are lobbying GW now. Union of Concerned Scientists, for example.

Check by yourself:

Note that decision to shut-down this amazing reactor was done by Clinton/Gore administration in their FIRST WEEKS in the office.

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