|Tokyo, Japan -- Provoking shock and outrage around the world, Prime Minister Taro Aso announced a target today to cut climate change emissions to -8% from 1990 levels by 2020, a goal just 2% lower than the -6% target previously adopted in the Kyoto Protocol.
The move is apparently an attempt by Aso to claim the mantle of former U.S. President George W. Bush, who retired in disgrace after eight years of blocking progress on climate change.
"Aso, like Bush, seems intent on bringing shame to his country and losing the support of his people" said Professor Umataro Tenma, a political scientist. "The -8% target could cause Aso's approval ratings to fall past zero to -8% -- a level once thought mathematically impossible."
Experts speculate that Aso -- who, like Bush, famously avoids reading -- might have been unaware that scientists have indicated that emissions cuts of 25-40% from developed countries are necessary by 2020 in order to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change.
By setting such a low target, Aso lowered standards for other developed countries, undercut the chance for a strong agreement with developing nations, and denied his citizens the chance to lead in the low-carbon economy of the future.
Polluters Thrilled By Pathetic Target
Heavy carbon emitters in Japan and around the world greeted the -8% announcement with glee.
"This is a wonderful day for everyone who doesn't care about the future," said Masahiro Tadanuma, Executive Director of the Japanese Polluters Association. "Now that we won't have to work hard creating innovative new green technologies, I'll have more time for my hobby: burning rainforests."
Polluters speculated that Aso's family background in the cement industry contributed to his decision. But other experts suggest that he may simply be tired of serving as prime minister.
"Why would Aso choose -8%, when a recent poll found that 63% of Japanese would support a -25% or stronger target?" asked Fukushima Hirota, a Senior Researcher at the Institute for Studying Why Aso Makes Bad Decisions. "He must be tired of politics and want his party to lose the next election. It's hard to see any other explanation for it."