A slumping economy pushed down Japanese carbon dioxide emissions from burning fuels by a record 6.7% in the year to March 2009, the trade ministry has said, but the country is still far from meeting its Kyoto Protocol obligations. Improvements in energy efficiency in Japan, the world's fifth-biggest emitter, and a shift to non-fossil fuels contributed to less than 10% of the decline. Japan's Kyoto commitments are to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 1.19 billion tonnes in carbon dioxide equivalent on average in the five years starting from the last fiscal year, down six per cent from 1990/1991 levels. Carbon dioxide created from burning fuels, which are largely affected by industrial activity, account for about 90% of the country's total greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon dioxide from chemical reactions and other processes account for about five per cent and the remainder is made up of other greenhouse gasses, such as hydrofluorocarbons used in refrigerators and air conditioners. In the year to March 2008, Japan saw its greenhouse gas emissions rise 2.4% to a record 1.37 billion tonnes in carbon dioxide equivalent, final government data showed in April. The preliminary data showed that carbon dioxide emissions from fuel fell 6.7% to 1.14 billion tonnes in fiscal 2008/2009 from a year earlier when a record 1.22 billion tonnes were emitted. "This is not an ideal way for the economy to join hands with the environment in a sustainable manner," said Takashi Ishizaki, director of the ministry's energy policy planning office. The decline in carbon dioxide emissions was mainly attributed to a record 6.8% decline in Japan's final energy consumption in the past fiscal year, when the world's No 2 economy shrunk by 3.2% and the number of people who lost their jobs rose by a hefty 640,000.


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