Japan hits record-low emissions

Figures released last week show Japan produced record-low levels of greenhouse gases in the year to March 2010; continuing the country's downward trend.

It is the second consecutive year that Japan’s numbers dropped; down 5.6% on 2008/2009.

Under the 2008 Kyoto agreement, Japan pledged to cut emissions to an annual average of 1.186 billion tonnes over five years.

This would see levels 6% lower than they were two decades ago when Japan first started recording information on greenhouse gases.

Tuesday’s figures show that with a little over 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide produced during the 2009/10 year, the country is at least on the right track.

Despite the good news however, concerns remain that the numbers may rise once again if the world’s fifth-largest polluter turns to fossil fuels in lieu of its stricken nuclear power network.

Over half of the country’s nuclear capabilities remain offline in the wake of March’s devastating tsunami, with ongoing concerns regarding public safety slowing repairs and – potentially – altering Japan’s plans for nuclear power in the future.

Reuters news agency report an official at Japan’s environment ministry as saying: “It is difficult to forecast the post-quake impact on emissions.

“One factor boosting emissions is the usage of fossil fuels as an alternative. But we also have to think about the impact of energy saving and of the renewable energy sector, which is growing.”

Sam Plester

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