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Could do better: Japan gently chided by UN climate chief

BERLIN (AP) -- The top U.N. climate official on Tuesday chided Japan over its new plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which environmental campaigners say shows no real ambition to increase existing efforts.

All signatories of the 2015 Paris Agreement are supposed to submit a revised plan before this year's U.N. climate meeting in November.

"I trust that more ambitious targets will be set soon," said Patricia Espinosa, after the Bonn-based U.N. climate agency she heads received Tokyo's update.

In a gentle rebuke to the world's third-biggest economy, Espinosa added that "bold, ambitious" action would be required and said her agency stood "ready to support Japan and all other parties" to the Paris accord in setting new goals.

According to the World Resources Institute, a Washington-based environmental think tank, Japan's new climate plan essentially keeps the same targets set five years ago, of reducing emissions by 26% by 2030 from 2013 levels. The European Union is considering setting a reduction target of 50-55% by 2030, albeit with 1990 as the baseline.

"This is a missed opportunity as low-carbon solutions are more available than ever, often cheaper than traditional alternatives, and Japan is a major economy with access to the most advanced technologies," World Resources Institute Vice President Helen Mountford said. She added that Japan could cut the cost of its fossil fuel imports and create tens of thousands of jobs in the renewable energy sector with the right policies.

Kat Kramer, a climate expert at the charity Christian Aid, called Japan's plan "an international disgrace."

"The fact they are smuggling it out during a global pandemic when it will avoid the scrutiny it deserves is shameful," she added.

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