Japan backs down on its short-term Kyoto obligations

1 January 2002

The Japanese government has agreed not to subject industry to any mandatory greenhouse gas emission reductions for at least the next three years. The 1997 Protocol commits Japan to a 6% reduction from its 1990 emission level by 2010-12, though current emissions are 17% over the 1990 level. The decision thus undermines any intention to ratify the climate change treaty, which would involve making the 6% national emission reduction target legally binding.

While Japan has been eager to ensure the success of the Kyoto Protocol, its manufacturing industry is conscious of the fact that China next door has no constraint on carbon emissions. In November, under some political pressure from Europe, Japan announced that it would ratify the treaty despite US disengagement from it. Without the USA and Japan it is unlikely that the present treaty can come into effect.

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