* UN official calls on Japan to back Kyoto extension
* Hints wouldn’t be able to trade carbon without extension
* Factbox of what’s next for Kyoto Protocol [ID:nLDE71G1WC]
TOKYO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - The United Nations on Monday urged Japan to accept an extension of the Kyoto Protocol, hinting that failure to do so would likely scupper the country’s involvement in carbon trading schemes.
Uncertainty has been growing over the future of the first legally binding treaty to cut greenhouse gases blamed for warming the planet, as the United States never signed the Protocol and as an economic slump recently has made it easier than earlier expected for many countries to meet emissions targets that are supposed to underpin carbon trading schemes.
Existing curbs expire in December 2012 and Japan, Russia and Canada have said they will not agree to an extension as they instead want a new treaty that targets all major emitters.
Most governments, including those of developing nations, support the extension.
“You have invested a lot in Kyoto Protocol infrastructure. With a categorical no to the Kyoto Protocol, Japan risks losing many of those investments,” executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Christiana Figueres, said at a seminar in Tokyo on Monday.
“Only Kyoto countries can use Kyoto mechanisms (including established carbon trading schemes).”
Tokyo has said, however, that an agreement reached at the last U.N. meeting in Cancun, Mexico, included a footnote which would enable Japan to use the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and other Kyoto Protocol market schemes while being absent from the second period of Kyoto.
Japanese companies and the nation’s government have been heavily involved in carbon trading, which allows rich nation to meet a part of their emissions targets by buying carbon offsets from clean-energy projects in developing nations.
Figueres called on Japan to be specific about the conditions that would need to be met for it to agree to an extension to Kyoto.
She is set to attend an informal gathering of climate delegates from about 30 governments in Tokyo, co-chaired by Japan and Brazil. The gathering is aimed at kick-starting climate talks towards a year-end summit in Durban, South Africa. (Reporting by Risa Maeda; Editing by Joseph Radford)