As Kyoto deadline nears, developed countries likely to meet greenhouse gas goals

As the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol wraps up December 31, recent global data on greenhouse gas emissions have shown that developed countries including Japan are likely to achieve their targets of cutting such emissions by at least 5 percent from the 1990 levels.

The apparent fulfillment comes despite a rise in carbon dioxide emissions worldwide, partly due to the growth of emerging economies such as China and India. The Kyoto Protocol sets 2008 to 2012 as the first commitment period for developed nations to cut emissions of global warming gases by setting goals.

Based on data available globally, developed nations are expected to fulfill the target set by the Kyoto pact, which requires them to cut emissions by at least 5 percent from 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012. Data show that Japan is likely to fulfill its own target of cutting emissions by 6 percent.

The secretariat of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, citing data from the developed countries, said overall emissions of the countries decreased around 11 to 18 percent annually in the 2008 to 2010 period compared with 1990 levels.

But global carbon dioxide emissions in 2010 rose at least about 1.4 times against the 1990 levels, data showed, indicating further efforts are necessary to tackle the situation.

From 2013, the European Union and some industrialized nations will continue their commitments to the Kyoto Protocol with an eight-year second commitment period. Other countries including Japan, Russia and New Zealand, which were part of the first period, are not taking part in the second phase and will instead promote their own voluntary efforts to reduce emissions.

Tokyo has been keen on creating a new binding framework that includes especially the U.S. and China, the world’s top carbon dioxide emitters that are not obliged to emissions cuts under the Kyoto pact.

Experts on global warming say Japan, under its new government led by the Liberal Democratic Party, will find itself in a crucial stage as some countries welcome the second phase of the Kyoto pact next year.

The previous government of the Democratic Party of Japan made an international pledge to reduce greenouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels. The target was premised on greater reliance on nuclear power, which emits substantially lower amounts of carbon dioxide than thermal power.

But sticking to the promise appears difficult in light of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which has pushed up the use of thermal power plants.

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