What will Japan’s new Prime Minister do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?



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    Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who came into office in September 2009, made news on the climate change front with a dramatic announcement that he was committing Japan to reduce its carbon emissions in the amount of 25% by 2020. That far exceeds the goals of Japan’s previous government, which had sought only an 8% reduction. Hatoyama has also stocked his cabinet with proponents of environmental responsibility who are expected to push for Japanese industry to become greener. As with all politicians, however, Hatoyama’s ambitious goals are controversial. Some question whether his seemingly dramatic targets really represent a massive change in Japan’s climate change policy: the 25% reduction figure takes into account expected reductions from the purchase of carbon credits, and with these and other factors taken out, what Hatoyama is asking for (assuming it actually comes to pass) is only about a 10 to 15% reduction in Japan’s domestic production of greenhouse gases–not really that much higher than the 8% proposed by the previous government. Nevertheless, Hatoyama has gotten credit for the focus he’s put on the issue of global warming.

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