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Japan basically gives up on trying to reduce emissions

The world's fifth-largest greenhouse gas emitter, Japan once vowed to cut its emissions by a full 25 percent by 2020. But it's new government, facing a post-Fukushima country in which all nuclear plants have been shut down, has revised that number way down -- to just 3.8 percent. That's a small reduction from 2005 figures, but a three percent increase from emission levels in 1990.

The announcement at the U.N. climate talks in Warsaw, casting a pall over efforts to reach an international agreement on emissions reductions. The Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), a group of 44 low-lying nations most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, released a statement saying: "[We] are extremely concerned that the announcement represents a huge step backwards in the global effort to hold warming below the essential 1.5-2 degrees celsius threshold."

"Japan's dramatic U-turn on its emissions target commitments is a slap in the face for poor countries who are right now struggling to cope with changes to their climate," added a spokesperson for Oxfam.

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