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The impact of the Tokyo Metropolitan Emissions Trading Scheme on reducing greenhouse gas emissions: findings from a facility-based study

Masayo Wakabayashi and Osamu Kimura

Climate Policy, 2018, vol. 18, issue 8, 1028-1043

Abstract: This paper provides a detailed analysis of the Tokyo Metropolitan Emissions Trading Scheme (Tokyo ETS), Japan’s first emissions trading scheme with mandatory cap initiated by the government of Tokyo. Unlike trading schemes in other countries, the Tokyo ETS covers indirect emissions from the commercial sector. It is well known that a variety of market barriers impede full realization of energy efficiency opportunities, especially in the commercial sector. Experiences with the Tokyo ETS should therefore provide important lessons for the design of climate change mitigation policies, especially when targeting the commercial sector. The emissions from covered entities have been drastically reduced from those at the scheme’s outset, with an average 14% reduction as of the end of the first commitment period of five years (2010–2014) compared with 2009 levels. This paper shows that the Tokyo ETS alone did not cause these reductions; there were other drivers. Among them, the energy savings triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 were crucial. The contribution of credit trading, in contrast, was limited since most of the covered entities reduced emissions by themselves. Through an investigation of official reports, an assessment of the emissions data from the covered entities compared to those of uncovered entities and in-depth interviews with firms covered by the scheme, this paper confirms that the main drivers of emissions reductions by covered entities were separate from the ETS. In fact, the advisory aspect of the scheme seems to be much more important in encouraging energy-saving actions.Key policy insightsMost of the observed emission reductions were not caused by the Tokyo ETS alone. An advisory instrument was crucial to the effectiveness of the Tokyo ETS. The experience of the Tokyo ETS suggests that making full use of the advantages of emissions trading is difficult in the case of the commercial sector. Price signals have not provided a stimulus to climate change mitigation actions, which implies that establishing a cap to yield effective carbon prices poses a challenge.

Date: 2018
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