By Risa Maeda
"We estimate the electric power sector's purchases of CO2 credits from abroad will reach 400 to 500 million tonnes," Tetsunari Iida, executive director at the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, said in an interview for the Reuters' Global Environment Summit.
Iida said that because Japan's commitments under the Kyoto Protocol depend largely on the electric power sector's voluntarily promised cuts in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, Japan may have to take more bold steps to introduce cleaner energy, such as liberalizing power grid systems.
Currently, the country is split between two power systems, and each regional power company has its own power grid, making it hard to deal with wild swings in supply from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.
Iida said the sector's use of coal and other fossil fuels was becoming a trend due mainly to the indefinite shutdown of Japan's biggest nuclear plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co, (9501.T: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) after a July 2007 earthquake.
CO2 is the main greenhouse gas blamed for global warming.
"But the year 2012 is not an end. It is rather at the beginning," he said, referring to ongoing U.N.-led talks aimed at agreeing a replacement for the Kyoto Protocol. Developed countries have been called to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 40 percent by 2020 from the 1990 levels.
Iida has been frequently invited to advisory committees to submit energy and environment policy proposals to the central and Tokyo municipal governments.
(Reporting by Risa Maeda)