Japanese professional baseball players have vowed to shorten playing time per game as part of the national pastime's contribution to the fight against global warming.
They will aim to cut playing time by six percent, or 12 minutes, from the average of three hours and 18 minutes per game, the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) commissioners' office said.
Advertisement"When a professional baseball game is staged, a huge amount of carbon dioxides, a cause of global warming, is discharged because it requires use of energy to move players and spectators, supply electricity for lighting and other purposes and dispose of food and drink waste," NPB said in a statement.
The pledge to cut playing time was set in accordance with Japan's promise to cut its emissions of greenhouse gases by six percent from 1990 levels between 2008 and 2012 under the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
Japan, despite being the home of the landmark treaty, is far behind in meeting its Kyoto obligations as it insists only on voluntary measures so as not to put at risk a steady economic recovery.
"By taking the initiative in preventing global warming, the baseball world aims to enlighten fans and promote joint action among clubs, players and fans to prevent global warming," Monday's statement added.
By reducing playing time by 12 minutes per game, the NPB estimates this year baseball will be able to cut its carbon dioxide emissions by 209 tonnes over 864 games.
NPB, which has 12 clubs under its wing, said it will buy carbon emission credits to make up for a shortfall under the target.
To speed up games and save time, NPB said teams will be required to change offensive and defensive sides within two minutes and 15 seconds and the pitcher can spend no longer than 15 seconds throwing a pitch after receiving the ball from the catcher when all bases are empty.
The NPB statement said that the measures would also be a boost for the sport, which faces growing competition from faster, more physical sports such as football.