After considering public opinion and various other views, Prime Minister Taro Aso will decide on Japan's medium-term targets this June.
The nonprofit group Japan for Sustainability is asking people around the world for their comments, and then will share the findings with Prime Minister Aso and the media.
In Copenhagen, world governments are expected to finalize an agreement limiting greenhouse gas emissions that will replace the Kyoto Protocol when it expires at the end of 2012.
Junko Edahiro, chief executive of Japan for Sustainability, says, "While environmental NGOs are calling for major emission reductions, industry is making a strong appeal for targets that will not lead to big reductions. A large gap in their positions persists."
Japan currently accounts for four percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Japanís target under the Kyoto Protocol, named for the Japanese city in which it was finalized, is for a six percent reduction from the 1990 level.
The Nanao-Ohta power plant at Ishikawa burns coal and emits greenhouse gases. (Photo courtesy Hokuriku Electric Power Co)
But Japan's emissions are rising.
On April 30, the government announced that Japan's emission of greenhouse gases in FY2007 totaled 1.374 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent.
The figure is 2.4 percent higher than the previous year and 9.0 percent higher than the base year of the Kyoto Protocol.
The government is currently considering six options for Japanís medium-term targets, all based on a 2005 baseline.
Edahiro says Japan is considering two types of approaches to determine its emissions target for 2020. One looks at what reductions could be achieved if certain actions were taken.
The other focuses on fairness among industrialized countries.
This approach seeks reduction efforts that are fair for all industrialized countries, by equally sharing the marginal abatement costs of greenhouse gas emission reductions, aiming at a 25 percent reduction from 1990 for these countries.
Marginal abatement costs are the additional costs required for additional reductions; this approach considers previous efforts. Japan, for example, has already made considerable investments into energy efficiency improvements, so its marginal abatement cost is higher than in countries that have not done so.
By this approach, the U.S. target will be -19 percent to -24 percent compared to 1990, and the EU will be - 23 percent to -27 percent.
To achieve a 25 percent reduction from 1990, all developed countries will have the same -25 percent reduction target.
Edahiro says for Japan to achieve this, almost all new and existing equipment will have to be highly efficient, and Japan will have to reduce its economic activity by setting a price for carbon, either through a carbon tax or emissions trading.
Click here to complete the Japan for Sustainability public opinion survey. Deadline for opinions is end of the day, May 16, 2009. Any questions about this survey, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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