The Japanese government has agreed not to apply any mandatory greenhouse gas emission reductions to industry for the next three years. Under the terms of the Kyoto treaty, Japan would be required by 2010-2012 to reduce its emissions to 6 per cent below its emissions level in 1990. Today these emissions are estimated to be 17 per cent above the 1990 level.

Japan announced last November that it would ratify the treaty, in spite of the USA’s refusal to do so. The fact that the treaty was originally hammered out in Japan is also an incentive. However manufacturing industry is nervous of the effects this will have, particularly since neighbouring China remains exempt. Unless industry adopts voluntary controls, the delay is likely to make it more difficult for Japan to achieve its Kyoto targets.