Dec. 17 (Bloomberg) — Japan can transfer and acquire carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol until at least the second half of 2015 during a so-called “true up” period, government officials said today.

Japan joined New Zealand, Canada and Russia in declining to sign up for the treaty’s restrictions for the second round beginning next year. Envoys at United Nations climate talks in Doha agreed on Dec. 8 that countries with no emissions targets for 2013 and beyond won’t be able to acquire and transfer Kyoto permits and offsets.

Even so, Japan can continue to participate in international emissions trading after the first commitment period ends in 2012, Yuji Mizuno, an environment ministry official in charge of climate change policy, said at a briefing. The country will have about two and half years to reconcile the number of credits it will need to turn over in connections with its initial obligations, he said.

New Zealand made a similar remark last week, saying polluters will be able to buy UN Certified Emission Reductions, or CERs, until a true-up period reviewing current Kyoto commitments ends, a spokesman for New Zealand’s climate change minister Tim Groser said.

According to the decision announced at Doha, countries with emission targets for the second commitment period can transfer and acquire CERs generated by projects that reduce pollution in developing nations.

Record Low

During the true-up period, offsets Japan earns from financing projects to reduce emission before the end of this month can be traded internationally, according to Mizuno. Any offsets for cuts achieved after that can only be sent to Japan’s registry and wont’ be eligible for transfer or acquisition internationally, he said.

CERs for delivery in December fell 9.7 percent to 28 euro cents (37 U.S. cents), the lowest price ever, in trading today on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London. Prices are down 93 percent since this year high of $4.18 euros on June 29.

The number of CERs distributed in Japan would be limited, and efforts to cut emissions may be more costly, said Yukari Takamura, an international law professor at Nagoya University’s graduate school of environment studies, who was in Doha.

“Businesses cannot buy cheaper CERs, for example, from an operator in Europe, so the cost of achieving an emission cut target could be relatively more expensive,” she said in an interview Dec. 14.

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