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Midterm Goals
The UN Climate Change Conference (COP 15) to be held in Copenhagen in December is expected to produce a new global climate change agreement, which would take effect in 2013.Yet, as the negotiations progress, nations are yet to agree on a credible mid-term emissions reduction goal, which is crucial to reach the global agreement in Copenhagen.

The midterm goal of Japan: Positions of LDP and DPJ
In its manifesto, the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) put forward the mid-term target to reduce emissions by 15% compared with 2005 levels (8% compared with 1990 levels) by 2020. This is consistent with the target announced by the former Prime Minister Taro Aso in June 2009.

The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in its manifesto pledged a 25 percent cut in Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 from 1990 levels. Given that the DPJ has won the general election recently, it is likely to reset Japan's mid-term emissions target.

Table 1: Comparison of mid-term goals set by EU, the U.S. and Japan
EU Reduce the overall GHG emissions by at least 20% below 1990 levels/13% below 2005 levels by 2020
The U.S. President Obama’s budget plan proposed to return to the 1990 levels/14% below 2005 levels by 2020; the Climate Bill approved by House called for a 17% reduction below 1990 levels by 2020
Japan LDP: 8% below 1990 levels/15% below 2005 levels by 2020
DPJ: 25 % below 1990 levels by 2020

What do these numbers mean?
LDP: 15% below the 2005 levels
The mid-term target (i.e. to reduce emissions 15% below the 2005 levels) announced by the former Prime Minister Taro Aso was criticized by some as “lacking ambition”. But in the view that industrialized countries should bear the cost of emissions reduction together, if we compare this mid-term target with that set by EU and the U.S. (as seen in table 1), the criticism that Japan set too low a target lacks accuracy.

However, given the 2-degree global warming limite recognized by the G8 leaders recently and the 25 to 40 percent reductions from the 1990 levels advocated by the experts of IPCC, it is doubtful whether the mid-term target set by Japan (as well as E.U. and the U.S.) is sufficient. Mutural understanding between countries is needed to reach a fair and effective global agreement. Once a global agreement is reached, it is possible to tighten the emissions cap in the future.

DPL: 25% below the 1990 levels
The divide between the developed and developing countries has been keeping the climate change negotiations from making any significant progress. If developed countries, including Japan, set high emissions reduction targets, they will not only win the trust of developing countries, but also help protect small and coastal, low-lying countries and future generations. In this sense, the target revealed by the Democratic Party of Japan would be desirable.

Nevertheless, it is indispensable to ensure the competitiveness of businesses, especially given President Obama’s advocate for the return of emissions of the U.S. to the 1990 levels by 2020. Unless DPJ manages to persuade the U.S. to raise its target to the same level, the current 25% set by DPJ would be considered unfair. If the U.S. and EU are unable to raise their emissions reduction target, it is necessary for DPJ to re-examine its own target to make sure that it is consistent with the emission reduction efforts on the global level.


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