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Biotechnology

Japan to expand greenhouse gas monitoring in Asia

The Ibuki satellite   © Courtesy of JAXA

TOKYO -- Japan's Environment Ministry plans to better monitor greenhouse gas emissions in Asia through a combination of space-based and ground-based observation.

     The ministry will set up observation posts in Indonesia and Mongolia in fiscal 2014 and launch a new observation satellite as early as fiscal 2017. Fiscal years start in April.

     The ground-facilities for Indonesia will monitor greenhouse gas emissions in urban areas, while those for Mongolia will observe emissions in rural areas.

     The facilities will be installed at one or two locations in each country. The ministry intends to set up more facilities in Asian countries sometime in the future.

Down to earth

Japan has been pushing for a new scheme that allows its companies with advanced environmental technologies to earn carbon credits, or emission allowances, in return for helping developing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

     By the end of last year, Japan had agreements with nine countries, including Indonesia and Mongolia, regarding the bilateral offset credit mechanisms called Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM). It aims to sign more agreements with other countries. The precise monitoring of emissions in developing countries in Asia, based on data collected from a satellite and ground-based facilities, is part of Japanese efforts to promote the JCM.

     The data will be provided to developing countries in Asia to help them know the precise volume of emissions in each urban or rural area monitored in an effort to help these counties craft ways to cut emissions.

     The planned satellite would be a successor to the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite, commonly called Ibuki, which is the world's first satellite dedicated to greenhouse gas observation.

     Ibuki was developed jointly by the Environment Ministry, the National Institute for Environmental Studies and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). It was launched in January 2009 and has a design life of five years.

     The new satellite under development will be able to collect even more accurate data than Ibuki. The project's total development and operation costs are estimated at 40 billion yen ($383 million).

Where it counts

Meanwhile, the Environment Ministry has set aside in its budget plan for fiscal 2014 about 800 million yen for the installation of ground-based greenhouse gas observation facilities in Indonesia and Mongolia.

     The facilities in Indonesia will monitor greenhouse gas emissions from waste disposal sites, houses and factories in one or two urban areas. A so-called energy management system will also be introduced to optimize energy supply and demand.

     The facilities in Mongolia will monitor emissions in one or two rural areas used primarily for raising sheep.

     Freezing and refrigeration systems that use sunlight and cold air from underground and do not emit greenhouse gases will also be installed. The storage of sheep meat through the new freezing and refrigeration systems help shepherds raise sheep more efficiently, preventing an excessive reduction in pasture grasses, which absorb greenhouse gases.

(Nikkei)

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