Japan amends climate change bill but adds little substance

Published 10:03 on March 8, 2016  /  Last updated at 10:03 on March 8, 2016  /  Asia Pacific, Japan  /  No Comments

Japan’s Cabinet on Tuesday approved amendments to the nation’s climate change bill, but made no change that would bind emitters to stepping up climate action.

Japan’s Cabinet on Tuesday approved amendments to the nation’s climate change bill, but made no change that would bind emitters to stepping up climate action.

The amendments were made as part of Japan’s efforts to ensure it will meet its target of cutting GHG emissions 26% below 2013 levels by 2030, as it pledged at the UN climate conference in Paris in December.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Environment, the changes primarily revolved around four issues:

  • Enhancing efforts to raise public awareness
  • Promoting international cooperation, including the Joint Crediting Mechanism
  • Promoting climate action at local levels
  • Following and implementing the rules for mechanisms-related provisions following the decisions in Paris

But the bill itself had only one sentence about international cooperation, and the amendments in general had little substance, according to observers.

“There is no significant change that responds to the Paris Agreement such as insertion of the 2 and 1.5 degree C targets, a long-term goal, cap-and-trade or a long-term decarbonisation plan,” said Naoyuki Yamagishi of WWF Japan.

“There is nothing wrong about making efforts to raise public awareness. However, I can’t shake the impression that it is being used as a distraction from where the most important action is needed, which is energy and industry,” he added.

In parallel, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Trade, Economy and Industry (METI) are developing a climate action plan, which will be released within the next couple of months.

A joint advisory committee from the two ministries met to discuss the first full draft last week.

According to sources, the draft mentioned an 80% carbon reduction goal by 2050 as well as a pledge to “consider” an emissions trading scheme, which was part of the committee’s mandate when it was established in December.

However, with METI, as well as industry, firmly opposing setting up a cap-and-trade scheme, observers don’t expect a Japanese ETS to be part of the final action plan.

By Stian Reklev – stian@carbon-pulse.com

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