UK slams Japan’s decision to slash climate target

Japan has revised its target to cut emissions which would see them rise by 3% on 1990 levels by 2020

UK climate chief Ed Davey. (Pic: DECC)

UK climate chief Ed Davey. (Pic: DECC)

By Ed King in Warsaw

Japan’s decision to change its 2020 carbon reduction goals has led to heavy criticism from a wide range of countries at UN climate talks in Warsaw.

Earlier this morning the government in Tokyo revealed it was dropping a target to cut emissions 25% on 1990 levels by 2020, and replacing it with a goal that will see them rise 3% on 1990 levels by 2020.

UK climate chief Ed Davey says the move is “deeply disappointing” and runs against “broader political commitments” to tackle climate change.

“We also note that Japan has reaffirmed its long-term emissions reduction target of 80% by 2050,” he added.

“It will be important to understand how Japan intends to meet this, and set an ambitious 2030 target, in the light of the announcement to reduce its 2020 target.

China’s lead negotiator in Warsaw Su Wei said countries felt let down by the news: “I don’t have any words to describe my dismay at that announcement,” he told reporters.

A statement from the Alliance of Small Island States, which represents the world’s most climate vulnerable states, called the news a “huge step backwards”.

“AOSIS is extremely concerned that the announcement represents a huge step backwards in the global effort to hold warming below the essential 1.5-2°C threshold, and puts our populations at great risk,” it said.

“This is neither the time nor the place to be backtracking on commitments made by leaders in Copenhagen.”

Japan has struggled to control rising emissions since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, which prompted the government to abandon its long-term atomic energy plans and invest in fossil fuel power plants.

The country’s chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said the old target was “unfounded” and “unfeasible”.

Speaking in Warsaw, lead negotiator Hiroshi Minami said the new target is based on “zero nuclear power”, but revealed the country will increase its climate finance contributions to $16.1 billion.

The news has come as a blow to delegates at the Warsaw talks, which are aimed to developing a global emissions reduction treaty for leaders to sign in 2015.

The world’s traditional developing countries want richer nations to make larger carbon reductions and offer more financial support.

But there appears to be little sign of this happening.

In the past few days Australia’s Government has issued a bill in Parliament aimed at repealing a carbon tax on the country’s 300 most polluting companies.

This move was warmly supported by Canada, which said carbon taxes penalised families and “raise the price of everything”.

And a leaked cable from the US State Department reveals the Obama Administration’s strong opposition to a ‘loss and damage’ or climate compensation scheme many developing nations say is now critical.

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