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Japan throws down gauntlet, vows to cut greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020

The new prime minister of Japan, Yukio Hatoyama, has thrown down the gauntlet to other industrialized nations in the lead-up to the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen this December. He had pledged to cut his nation’s greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent from 1990 levels (the set date for the Kyoto Treaty) by 2020.

However, Hatoyama has stated that his country—the world’s fifth in terms of greenhouse emissions—will only stick to this pledge if other nations sign up to similar cuts. This puts the pressure on nations like the United States, China, and India to make similar cuts.

“With such a target, Japan will take on the leadership role that industrialised countries have agreed to take in climate change abatement,” Yvo de Boer, head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, said of the announcement.

In his announcement Hatoyama made it clear that he believed developing nations also must commit to cuts. The statement is largely seen as being directed towards China and India.

Hatoyama has taken his nation’s stance on climate change far beyond his predecessor who promised only an 8 percent cut in the same time span.

The UN and developing nations have asked for cuts from the industrialized world of 25-40 percent to prevent runaway global warming. Currently the EU has pledged 30 percent cuts by 2020 with a strong deal in Copenhagen and 20 percent without.

In contrast, the current bill in the United States congress would cut greenhouse gas emissions 6 percent by 2020.

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