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Japan goes back on emission commitments, cites Fukushima

The new targets factor in the closure of its nuclear program for the next 6 years and increased investments in energy-efficient technology, something Japan hasn't done before.

By Ananth Baliga
Japan goes back on emission commitments, cites Fukushima
Japan cited the closure of the Fukushima nuclear plant and its stalled nuclear power program as the reason for its failure to meet greenhouse gas emission targets. (File/UPI/Air Photo Service Co. Ltd.) | License Photo

Nov. 15 (UPI) -- Japan on Friday announced that it would not be able to meet its promise to cut greenhouse gas emissions, citing the closure of the Fukushima and other nuclear plants.

This announcement has raised questions over international talks taking place in Warsaw to negotiate a deal addressing the threat of climate change. Japan now says it will release 3 percent more greenhouse gases as compared to 1990 levels, while it had previously, based on a strong nuclear power program, promised to cut emissions by 25 percent from 1990 levels.

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“We’re down to zero nuclear; anyone doing the math will find that target impossible now,” Japanese environment minister Nobuteru Ishihara said. He also called the original goal "unrealistic."

The new target takes into consideration that the Japanese nuclear program won't be online till 2020 and that the country will make a 20 percent investment in renewable energy sources and energy-efficient technology.

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Japan, one of the world's worst polluters, has cast a shadow on negotiations underway in Warsaw, which have the goal of replacing the Kyoto Protocol which has expired, and determining how poor and developing countries should be compensated for the costs of addressing climate change. But the negotiations are progressing at a snail's pace after a 2009 breakdown in talks.

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This development has shed light on the continued importance of nuclear power to help achieve emission goals. Choosing to rely on its nuclear power, Japan has been slack in pushing for renewable energy sources, with less than 3 percent of its electricity coming from renewable sources of power.

[New York Times]

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