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2008年6月11日 (水)


2008/6/11 --The Asahi Shimbun, June 10(IHT/Asahi: June 11,2008)

EDITORIAL: Fukuda's emission goal


It's human nature to readily promise to do something if one has a year to carry it out. But it's a different matter if one is talking about a month ahead.

This mentality seems to be lurking behind Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda's blueprint for Japan's actions to help stem global warming.




The centerpiece of the Fukuda initiative, announced Monday with much fanfare, is a goal that must be achieved in about 40 years: Japan will cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 60-80 percent from the current levels by 2050.



Halving global emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases by mid-century is a goal which a majority of countries now believe must be achieved to stop the climb of the Earth's temperature. This is the holy grail in the fight to save the planet from falling into the abyss of harmful climate change. The target emerged from warnings by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a network of scientists around the world, about the consequences of continued increases in greenhouse gas emissions.

As a leading industrial nation, Japan has a duty to pursue a more ambitious goal than the 50-percent reduction by the middle of the century.


(grail=大切なもの、命のもと、グラール) (abyss=深み、深海、深遠、淵)

Regrettably, the scientific approach adopted to set the emission target for the distant future is missing from discussions over the prospects and actions for the near future.


If the goal of halving the world's greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is to be accepted, it is clear what kind of targets for the near future should be pursued.


The key proposal for midterm commitments by industrial countries is an emissions reduction of between 25 and 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2020--a target based on the IPCC's report and discussed at last year's Conference of Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate



Instead of announcing a clear midterm target, however, Fukuda just referred to an estimate that Japan expects to slash its emissions by 14 percent from 2005 levels by 2020. This reduction will not be enough, given that the amount of greenhouse gases Japan spews into the atmosphere has grown from 1990.



The number for 2020 is based on the sector-specific approach proposed by Japan, which means adding up estimates of possible emissions reductions by various sectors, such as industries and households. The Japanese government is lobbying for the adoption of this method for setting emissions targets for individual countries. But adding up possible cuts by various sectors is not enough to achieve the emissions target. That is clear from the announced figure.



One welcome component of Fukuda's package is the start of a trial emissions trading system this fall. Emissions trading involves allocating credits to companies based on the emissions caps imposed on them. Companies that have reduced their emissions below their caps can sell the surplus credits.



The government should try to make sure that international rules for emissions trading will not be disadvantageous to Japanese industries.

But that alone would not be enough.


The system should incorporate into the Japanese economy a powerful economic incentive for businesses to curtail their CO2 emissions. It must be so designed that efforts to create a low-carbon industrial structure will lead to higher competitiveness of Japanese industries.

The government needs to figure out a system that will promote the transformation of Japanese industry over years while taking steps to ensure that a sudden increase in the burden on companies will not choke their future growth.



The main opposition Minshuto (Democratic Party of Japan) has already submitted its own anti-warming bill to the Diet. The bill contains a target of reducing Japan's emissions by over 60 percent from the 1990 levels at an early date by 2050 and by more than 25 percent by 2020.

Under Minshuto's plan, emissions trading will be started in Japan in fiscal 2010. It represents a clearer road map for action than Fukuda's blueprint.


Proposals for tackling the environmental challenge from both the government and the largest opposition party are finally on the table, with little time left until this year's Group of Eight summit, which will be held in the Lake Toyako resort in Hokkaido in July. It is time for both camps to discuss specific measures to achieve necessary goals instead of trying to propose more impressive targets than the other side.



--The Asahi Shimbun, June 10(IHT/Asahi: June 11,2008)

朝日新聞 6月10日号 (英語版 2008年6月11日発行)


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