TOKYO - Japan's Democratic Party, set to take power after a landslide election win on Sunday, has promised deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and more renewable energy use.
But some promises, such as a plan to end a surcharge on gasoline, have sparked doubt among environmentalists over the party's commitment to dramatic change.
Following are questions and answers about the party's climate policies:
HOW WILL CLIMATE POLICY CHANGE UNDER THE NEW GOVERNMENT?
The Democrats have said little about their climate policies since the election win but have pledged to target a 25 percent cut in emissions from 1990 levels by 2020.
That is tougher than the outgoing government's 2020 aim of an 8 percent cut below 1990 levels for Japan, the world's fifth-biggest greenhouse gas emitter.
The Democrats say the tough target is needed for Japan to play a bigger negotiating role at U.N.-backed climate talks in Copenhagen in December so emerging nations such as China and India join a new climate pact that goes beyond 2012, when the first phase of the Kyoto Protocol ends.
Pressure is growing on Tokyo for a more aggressive policy after Japan's emissions rose 2.3 percent to a record in the year to March 2008, putting the country 16 percent above its Kyoto Protocol target.
But the Democratic Party's emissions target faces resistance from industry as Japan struggles to shake off a deep recession. The head of the biggest business lobby, Nippon Keidanren, has said he did not agree with the Democrats' target.
HOW WILL THE DEMOCRATS TRY TO MEET THE EMISSIONS TARGET?
The party plans to create a domestic emissions trading market with compulsory volume caps on emitters, although details have yet to be thrashed out. Japan launched a national carbon market last year based on voluntary targets from companies.
The Democrats also plan to introduce a feed-in tariff for renewable energy to help expand capacity for clean energy sources and are considering a carbon tax to discourage polluters.
But the Democrats also want to eliminate highway tolls and abolish a decades-old surcharge of about 25 yen (26 U.S. cents) per liter on gasoline from April.
Those measures, aimed at easing the financial strain on voters, have been criticized by environmental groups which say they run counter to calls for greener lifestyles.
Free highway tolls and a reduced gas tax would boost car traffic by 21 percent and increase carbon dioxide emissions by 9.8 million tons a year, an estimate by one think tank shows.
WILL THE DEMOCRATS BE ABLE TO ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS?
Analysts like the party's drive for change, but worry about its plans to implement policies that have mass appeal, such as the cheaper gasoline plan, ahead of an election to parliament's less powerful upper house in mid-2010.
Climate change was not a big issue in Sunday's election, with voters more worried about the economy and jobs.
The new government would likely find it harder to introduce a carbon tax, for example, if it drags its feet because industry will have grown accustomed to lower gasoline prices after the party reduces the surcharge in April.
The party also faces a policymaking process that is often slow because ministries pursue different interests, although the Democrats have vowed to reduce bureaucratic inefficiencies.
WHO MIGHT BE THE POINT PERSON ON CLIMATE POLICY?
The Democrats' No.2, Katsuya Okada, has until now spearheaded the party's discussions on climate policy, but political pundits say he is more likely to take up a high-profile post such as finance minister.
Tetsuro Fukuyama, the Democrats' deputy policy chief, is now the party's head of green policy and has called for bolder greenhouse gas cuts.
Tomiko Okazaki, who held the environment portfolio in the party's British-style shadow cabinet, could also play a key role in the new government.
(Editing by Dean Yates)