Japan will find it difficult adhering to greenhouse gas emission reduction by 6% from 1990 levels set under the Kyoto Protocol framework. In 2007, Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions reached a high of 1.37 billion tons in preliminary figures, up 8.7% from 1990. Since the Kyoto Protocol obliges Japan to achieve the target in five years starting from 2008, the figure recorded in 2007 does not make any difference.

The major factor behind the increased greenhouse gas emissions was the reduced operating rate of Japan’s nuclear power plants, which hardly emit carbon dioxide.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has suspended operations at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power station in Niigata Prefecture after it was hit by an earthquake in 2007. To make up for electricity supply shortfalls, TEPCO boosted operations at thermal power plants, which emit a huge amount of carbon dioxide.

In case of Japan’s failure to achieve the Kyoto Protocol goal between 2008 and 2012, it will be required to reduce 1.3 times the unrealized volume in addition to additional obligations that would be contained in a post-Kyoto Protocol framework.

Japan will have an option to purchase carbon emissions trading rights from other countries to make up for the expected shortfalls, but that option would require a huge amount of money.

The country already plans to purchase a combined amount of 350 million tons in emissions rights for the private and public sectors, worth about JPY700 billion at current market values.