The Japanese government is about to miss its last chance to rejoin the group of nations leading the world in the fight against climate change, says WWF.

On Thursday a scientific advisory group of the government will propose six options for a midterm emission reduction target for 2020 � of which five are insufficient to protect the world from disastrous climate catastrophes in the future. WWF points out that the six proposals expected to be presented by the group range from a 5% increase of emissions to a reduction of 25% by 2020 - compared to 1990 levels.

According to the global conservation organization, only the most ambitious scenario comes close to reflecting the latest IPCC science on what it takes to stay below the danger-threshold of 2�C global warming � a cut of 25 to 40% by industrialized countries by 2020. "Prime Minister Taro Aso wants to win an election this year, and the midterm target debate is his chance to present himself as a true global leader who brings his country forward", said Kim Carstensen, Director of the WWF Global Climate Initiative.

"However, with the weak targets put on the table now he will be seen as a laggard in the UN climate talks, who also fails to set his country on track for a green economy boom." The only major developed country without a midterm target for emission cuts, Japan has indicated to make an announcement by June this year. Based on the proposals of the scientific advisors on Thursday, a committee under Prime Minister Aso will make a pre-selection and examine proposals throughout March, before a high-level debate in government circles determines the target. WWF warns that this could become a disgrace for Japan with such insufficient proposals at the onset.

According to WWF, the scientific advisory group has a tendency for economic scaremongering and fails to take the large potential benefits from climate action into account appropriately. Two of the three major institutes represented in the group echo industry complaints about high mitigation costs. Their assessments of the financial burden for industries related to ambitious energy policies and emission targets stand in sharp contrast to the conclusions of the third major institute.

"To highlight the weakness of most proposals, WWF sent letters to members of the advisory group, urging them to consider the benefits of climate action, such as huge energy savings or thousands of new green jobs", said Naoyuki Yamagishi, Head of Climate at WWF Japan.

"Avoiding action now and waiting for the disaster to happen will force Japan to pay a high price later. Our country is about to disgrace itself on the global climate stage and seems to ignore science that requires ambition."