Climate Law and Policy in Japan
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Japanese climate law and policy have developed rapidly since the 1990s after the ratification of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. They are characterized by the staged introduction of policies and measures, as well as by a step-by-step approach, with a review in 3-year intervals. The regulatory approach combines a framework law, the Law Concerning the Promotion of the Measures to Cope with Global Warming, and specific laws, as well as the proactive use of voluntary approaches such as Keidanren’s Voluntary Action Plan. Unique policies have also been introduced, including the Japanese Voluntary Emissions Trading Scheme, a domestic offset system and bilateral offset mechanisms. In comparison to the European Union, the Japanese approach to climate law and policy has been passive. It was impossible for the Japanese Diet to pass the 2010 Basic Bill to Cope with Global Warming pending adoption of a legally-binding and comprehensive international climate treaty. Furthermore, Japanese decision not to participate in the second commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol spells out a gloomy future for a quick passage of the Bill. Japan will comply with its 6% emission reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol until the end of 2012, take reluctant policies and measures based on Japan’s voluntary mitigation pledge under the Cancun Agreements. The voluntary target of reducing emissions by 25% below 1990 levels is most likely to be decreased without any binding international commitment after 2012, and Japan will then consider whether to join the legally-binding comprehensive treaty expected after 2020.