Japan Steps Up Its Greenhouse Gas Pledge. Will the U.S. Step Up Now, Too?


Photograph: Itsuo Inouye/AP

Japanese prime minister-designate Yukio Hatoyama has pledged to reduce Japan's greenhouse-gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels, a target more ambitious than made by outgoing premier Taro Aso's and a target that puts the U.S. to shame. In June, the Japanese government announced a target of only 8 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. The pledge is contingent on other developed countries reaching strong goals.

Hatoyama said: "Our country can't stop climate change even if we achieve our reduction targets. The world's leading nations must strive for an international framework that is fair and effective."

World leaders will come together in December in Copenhagen to create a climate treaty to extend and add to the Kyoto Protocol. Japan could now join the European Union, which has said it will up its decrease of emissions if other leading economies join them.

Hatoyoma also announced that he will attend the September 22nd UN Climate summit and begin work toward getting a deal in place for Copenhagen.

It's possible that it could be the U.S. that ends up getting Japan to abandon its pledge. The Waxman-Markey bill calls for only 4 percent below 1990 reductions by 2020, and that target could be undermined by the up to 2 billion tons of offsets available to polluters under the proposed cap on emissions. It seems that only decisive and strong political action from President Obama can show the world before Copenhagen that the U.S. is serious about reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.

More on Japan:
Japan: Producing Electricity from Train Station Ticket Gates
Japan's Moonshot? $21 Billion Invested in Space-Based Solar Power

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