As some countries struggle to meet older targets -- Japan, Spain and Italy could end up owing as much as $33 billion for failing to meet the greenhouse-gas emission reduction targets set by the Kyoto treaty, according to Bloomberg -- some already are pushing for even loftier goals.

Take Japan, which set a Kyoto target of cutting emissions 6 percent from 1990 levels. Greenhouse gases in the country actually had grown 7.8 percent above those levels as of 2005, the latest data available, according to NPR.

Still, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, along with his country's environmental ministry, has said Japan intends to meet its goal. And the country in May urged the world to cut 50 percent of its emissions by 2050.

Last week, Japan set another goal in an effort to meet its targets. The government is aiming to get solar panels on 30 percent of all households by 2030, in the hope of increasing the number of solar-powered households to 14 million from 400,000 today and growing its solar capacity thirtyfold from 1.3 gigawatts today, according to The Japan Times.

As part of the effort, the government plans to set up a 2 billion yen (about $18.4 million) research institute to develop lower-cost solar panels, The Times said.

The new year already has brought a handful of new green policies such as Japan's. Here's a roundup of the ones announced last week:

  • As it prepares for the Olympic Games in August, the Chinese capital of Beijing has set cleaner fuel standards requiring gasoline and diesel fuel to meet European standards. The city already had tightened its standards at the end of 2005, resulting in an emissions reduction of 2,480 metric tons annually, according to state-run news agency Xinhua, which added that the new standards are expected to cut emissions by another 1,840 tons annually. The city also is building subway lines and offering discounted prices for public transportation.
  • EU President Slovenia said Monday it would push hard to advance a legislative proposal aimed at boosting wider use of renewable energies and cutting carbon-dioxide emissions, according to Reuters. Approval is hoped for by mid-2009. Last year, the European Commission set binding targets requiring member nations to generate 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020 (see Ambitious and Binding). Analysts have questioned whether the EU will be able to achieve such a goal.
  • Brazil has begun requiring that all diesel fuel include a mixture of at least 2 percent biodiesel. The country already has the capacity to produce 2.4 billion liters (about 634 million gallons) of biodiesel per year, according to a government announcement, which said the capacity is more than enough to meet the requirements of the new law. The new fuel standard, which took effect Tuesday, also calls for an increase to 5 percent biodiesel in 2013.
  • India's renewable-energy ministry said Wednesday it plans to subsidize solar power for the first time ever (see press release PDF here). The decade-long incentive will provide solar-power developers with 12 rupees (about 30 cents) per kilowatt-hour for solar-electric power and 10 rupees per kilowatt-hour (about 25 cents) for solar-thermal power sold to state-run utilities, according to the ministry. The subsidy is capped at a maximum of 10 megawatts of capacity per state and 5 megawatts of capacity per developer, and is expected to bring 50 megawatts of new capacity to the country, according to the announcement. The private sector is expected to invest about 10 billion rupees (about $253.7 million) to pay for the incentive's first five years.