TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan met its Kyoto Protocol obligations to lower greenhouse gas emissions by planting trees and buying carbon credits as actual emissions rose, media reported on Sunday, days after the country watered down targets for cutting them further by 2020.
Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara will release the preliminary figures on November 20 in Warsaw, where some 190 nations are meeting from November 11-22 to work on a global climate pact, the Nikkei and Asahi newspapers said.
Japan, the world's fifth-biggest greenhouse gas emitter, was obliged under Kyoto to cut emissions by 6 percent from 1990/91 levels to 1.186 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent a year on average over the five years to March 2013.
The Nikkei business daily said actual emissions rose by 1.4 percent to 1.279 billion tonnes, but Japan met its target with offsets for planting trees and through the government and companies purchasing carbon credits from abroad.
Cumulative credit buying by the government totaled 97.559 million tonnes by March 2012.
On Friday, Japan drastically scaled back its commitment further emission cuts by 2020, with Ishihara saying it was unavoidable due to the closure of the country's 50 nuclear power plants after the Fukushima disaster.
The government will now target a 3.8 percent cut by 2020 versus 2005 levels. That amounts to a 3 percent rise from a United Nations benchmark year of 1990 and the reversal of the previous target of a 25 percent reduction.
On Sunday, the Nikkei said preliminary data showed Japan's carbon dioxide emissions rose 2.5 percent in the year ended March 2013 to 1.341 billion tonnes.
(Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by John Mair)