The city of Tokyo on Thursday launched Asia's first scheme to trade carbon credits, aiming to lead Japan in the battle against greenhouse gas emissions blamed for climate change.
The mega-city of 13 million mandated that the 1,400 top-polluting factories and office buildings reduce emissions, with the aim of slashing Tokyo's total output of carbon dioxide by 25 percent from 2000 levels by 2020.
"We want to be a model for the Japanese government," Yuki Arata, the director for emissions trading at the Tokyo metropolitan government's environment bureau, told AFP.
Japan, Asia's biggest economy, has pledged to cut greenhouse emissions by 25 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels, provided other major emitters also make sharp reductions, one of the most ambitious targets of any industrialised country.
In Tokyo, in the shorter term, the businesses will have to cut carbon dioxide emissions by six percent during the 2010-2014 period compared to their average emissions of recent years.
Under the scheme starting in 2011, companies that cannot meet the target will have to buy "right-to-pollute" credits from those that can, or will face fines and the bad publicity of having their names published.
To meet their targets, businesses can cut emissions through greater energy efficiency and by using renewable energy sources.
Tokyo's Governor Shintaro Ishihara, known for his strong nationalist and ecological ideas, led the city's unsuccessful bid to host a green 2016 Olympic Games, which he promised "would save planet Earth".
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