Japan's Prime Minister-elect pledged a 25 percent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 2020 compared with 1990 levels – significantly more than the previous government's target.
Japan's new PM takes a radical stance on carbon emissions
Japan is the world's fifth-largest emitter of greenhouse gas, but
Prime Minister-elect Yukio Hatoyama said his country could not solve the problem alone. The new target also depends on an agreement with other leading nations, he said.
"We can't stop climate change just with our country setting an emissions target," Hatoyama told a symposium on climate changeon Monday in Tokyo. "We will also aim to create a fair and effective international framework by all major countries in the world."
Hatoyama's victory put conservatives out of power
Hatoyama plans to announce further details of what is being called his Hatoyama Initiative at a UN meeting on climate change in New York later this month. His initiative is more ambitious than the target named by the government of outgoing Prime Minister Taro Aso, whose 2020 target came to a cut of 8 percent below 1990 levels.
Japan is expected to officially present its new greenhouse-gas target at UN-backed international climate talks in Copenhagen in December. The talks are aimed at working out a follow-up treaty on reducing emissions to succeed the current Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
Greenhouse gases are blamed for rising temperatures worldwide, as well as a change in weather patterns. At 16 percent above its Kyoto Protocol limit Japan, the world's number-two economy, has been under pressure to come up with tougher climate policies.
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Hatoyama, whose center-left Democratic Party of Japan had defeated the conservative party in a landslide national election a little over a week ago and who is to take office on Sept. 16, already faces opposition from the country's industry over the ambitious new goal.
At the climate change symposium Monday in Tokyo, however, Hatoyama argued that fighting global warming was not a threat but rather an opportunity for businesses. "Tackling climate change aggressively will open a new frontier for the Japanese economy and create jobs in areas such as electric cars and clean energy technology, including solar power," he said.
Ivo de Boer, head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, welcomed Hatoyama's commitment. De Boer said the new initiative would spur change in Japan's economy.
Editor: Jennifer Abramsohn