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2008年11月26日 (水)

不況と温暖化―「緑の内需」の出番だ

2008/11/26 --The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 25(IHT/Asahi: November 26,2008)

EDITORIAL: Eco-friendly economies

不況と温暖化―「緑の内需」の出番だ

The world is now in the grip of what has been described as a once-in-a-century economic crisis. Clearly, the priority should be to pull the global economy out of the slump. If so, can we really afford to spend huge sums now on efforts to prevent a rise in the Earth's temperature that will take decades to happen?

 世界はいま、100年に1度ともいわれる経済危機に直面している。不況から脱出するのが最優先だ。何十年も先の地球温暖化を防ぐため、大金を注ぐ余裕があるのか? 

As if dismissing such voices of doubt, U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has proposed a totally unconventional approach to dealing with the economic downturn.

 そんな疑問をはね返すように、米国のオバマ次期大統領は新たな発想で不況に挑もうとしている。 

Changes under Obama

■オバマ政権で転換へ 

Obama says he will tackle both the environmental and economic crises at the same time by nurturing industries and businesses that support efforts to curb global warming instead of spending heavily on traditional public works projects to build roads and dams.

 道路やダムをつくる従来型の公共事業ではなく、脱温暖化ビジネスを広げていくことで環境と経済の危機を同時に克服する、というのである。 

He has promised to invest $150 billion (about 15 trillion yen) over 10 years in a wide range of clean energy initiatives to expand green demand at home and thereby create 5 million new jobs.

Obama is talking about promoting the increased use of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, advancing the next generation of bio-fuels produced from nonfood crops, and promoting plug-in hybrid cars--gas-electric cars with batteries that can be recharged externally from ordinary power outlets at home.

 太陽光や風力など再生可能エネルギーの拡大、食用ではない植物によるバイオ燃料の開発、家庭のコンセントから充電できるハイブリッド車の普及……。エネルギー分野だけで10年間に1500億ドル(約15兆円)の国費を投じてグリーン内需を拡大し、500万人の雇用を生むと訴えてきた。 

An expansion of such green investments to other industrial areas will provide an even bigger boost to economic growth.

 こうした脱温暖化への投資を他の分野へも広げれば、経済への波及効果もさらに高まるだろう。 

Obama's prescription for curing the ailing economy has been dubbed a "Green New Deal." The term reflects the hope that huge investment in green programs will end the current economic crisis, just as the series of public investment programs, known as the New Deal of then U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, revitalized the U.S. economy during the Great Depression in the 1930s.

 オバマ氏の政策は「グリーン・ニューディール」とも呼ばれる。1930年代にフランクリン・ルーズベルト大統領が公共投資によるニューディール政策で大恐慌を乗り切ったように、こんどは環境への投資で危機を打開したい。そんな期待がこもる。 

Obama's economic strategy represents a complete reversal of the economic policy of President George W. Bush, who has turned his back on various efforts to stop harmful climate change, contending they would hinder U.S. economic growth.

 温暖化防止のためのさまざまな取り組みに対して、「経済成長を妨げる」と背を向け続けたブッシュ路線から、百八十度の転換である。 

Such a radical policy change by the nation that spews out more carbon dioxide into the air than any other country on this planet would be a boon to international negotiations for a new framework on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The framework will replace the current one under the Kyoto Protocol in 2013 after the 1997 treaty's commitment period ends in 2012.

 世界最大の二酸化炭素(CO2)排出国が「チェンジ」を決断すれば、13年以降の排出削減策の枠組みをつくる国際交渉に弾みがつく。 

The Group of Eight major economic powers have proposed to share with the rest of the world the goal of achieving at least a 50-percent reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

In its report released in June, U.S. consulting company McKinsey & Co. said achieving the ambitious reduction goal without sacrificing healthy economic growth requires a tenfold increase in carbon productivity over today.

 主要8カ国は「温室効果ガスを50年までに少なくとも半減する」という目標を世界で共有しようと呼びかけている。コンサルタントの米マッキンゼー社は6月にまとめた報告書で、「それには炭素生産性を現在の10倍にしなければならない」と指摘した。 

Carbon productivity refers to the amount of gross domestic product produced per ton of CO2-equivalents emitted into the atmosphere. To accomplish the G-8's emission reduction target without lowering the standard of living, it is necessary for the world to make a dramatic shift to renewable energy and at the same time drastically increase efficiency in the use of fossil fuels.

 炭素生産性とは、CO2排出1トン当たりの経済規模のことだ。生活水準を下げずに目標を達成するには、再生可能エネルギーへ大転換し、化石燃料の効率も飛躍的に高めないといけない。

Higher carbon productivity

■「炭素生産性」を競う 

It is time for all countries of the world, not just the United States, to undertake their own versions of the Green New Deal.

 米国にとどまらず、世界各国がグリーン・ニューディールを実践するべき時代に入った、といえる。 

First, major advanced nations should adopt a combination of policies that push their respective societies toward a low-carbon structure while keeping their economies on a path of growth. Then, they should urge and help fast-growing emerging economies like China and India and developing countries to follow their lead.

 まず、先進諸国が低炭素化と経済成長を両立させる政策に乗り出し、経済が拡大する中国やインドなどの新興国や途上国にも同様の政策をとるよう促し、支援していくべきだ。 

In fact, the world economy is already beginning to move toward a cleaner future.

 世界経済は、少しずつグリーン化の方向に動き始めている。 

Global investment in renewable energy projects grew from $10 billion in 1998 to $66 billion in 2007, according to a report published in September by the United Nations Environment Program and other organizations.

 国連環境計画(UNEP)などが9月に出した報告書によると、再生可能エネルギーへの投資が98年の100億ドルから07年には660億ドルへ増えた。

Total green investment is expected to exceed $340 billion in 2020 and reach $630 billion in 2030. The report says "changing patterns of employment and investment resulting from efforts to reduce climate change and its effects are already generating new jobs in many sectors and economies."

これが20年に3400億ドルを超え、30年には6300億ドルへふくらむ見通しだ。「すでに、脱温暖化にあわせた投資パターンの変化が雇用を生み出しつつある」と報告書はいう。 

The renewable energy sector alone has created 2.3 million new jobs across the world in recent years. In Germany, where photovoltaic generation is rapidly gaining popularity, the clean energy industry already employs as many as 260,000 people.

 たとえば再生可能エネルギーの分野に限っても、ここ数年間に世界で230万人が働き口を得た。太陽光発電が急速に広がるドイツでは、26万人の雇用が生まれている。 

If the United States under the new Obama administration accelerates this trend, a low-carbon industrial structure will become the global standard before long. The days will soon arrive when companies across the world pour greater energy into developing green technologies under a new eco-conscious business environment in fierce competition to offer products and services with higher carbon productivity.

 オバマ政権の米国がこの流れを加速させれば、遠からず、低炭素型の産業構造が世界標準となろう。新たなビジネス環境の下で各国の企業が技術開発に取り組み、炭素生産性の高い商品やサービスで競い合う時代がくる。 

Supporting a low-carbon society

■チェンジの後押しを 

Last month in Japan, the government started inviting companies to take part in the nation's trial carbon credit trading system. The system is designed to push the nation toward a low-carbon society by making companies pay for increases in their CO2 emissions while enabling them to profit from cuts in such emissions.

 日本では先月、CO2の国内排出量取引の試行に参加する企業の募集が始まった。CO2を多く出せば損をし、減らせば得をするシステムをつくり、低炭素化を促すものだ。 

However, the effectiveness of the new voluntary program has been called into question because it lacks enforcing power due to a political compromise with the business community, which opposes the idea of mandatory caps on emissions, claiming such a program would impede corporate activity. But companies and industries should take a step forward and adjust to the coming age of competition over carbon productivity, even though it requires much courage to do so amid deteriorating economic conditions.

 だが、「企業活動の妨げになる」と反対する産業界に妥協したため強制力に乏しく、実効性に疑問符がつく。不況の荒波が予想されるなかでは勇気がいるが、炭素生産性を競う時代の到来を見越して一歩を踏み出そう。 

Leading industrialized countries with mature economies are all struggling to find a new engine for growth. The inevitable transition to a post-carbon society will offer many valuable business opportunities rather than hamper economic growth.

 先進国はどこも経済が成熟し、成長のタネを見つけにくくなった。脱炭素は経済の制約どころか、貴重なビジネスチャンスになるだろう。 

Japan boasts top-notch environmental and energy technologies. A number of undertakings to bring about changes for a greener future are under way in this country. What is missing from the picture is an effective system to support such efforts.

 日本の環境・エネルギー技術は世界トップレベルだ。「チェンジ」の試みも数多い。足りないのは、それを促し後押しする仕組みである。 

Domestic automakers, for instance, are now bringing to the market such clean-running cars as electric vehicles and fuel-cell cars using hydrogen as fuel. But promoting these next-generation vehicles requires development of new infrastructure, such as recharging facilities and hydrogen stations.

 たとえば、自動車メーカーは、電気自動車や水素を使う燃料電池車を市場に送り出しつつある。ただし、これら次世代車を普及させるには、充電施設や水素スタンドといった社会的な条件整備が欠かせない。 

Some local communities are tackling the environmental challenge on their own. In August, construction of a biomass-fuel power plant began in Higashi-Agatsuma, Gunma Prefecture. The project, financed by Tokyo Gas Co. and Orix Corp., will produce electricity by burning wood chips made by crunching up tree branches and wood waste.

 地域レベルの挑戦もある。群馬県東吾妻町では8月、東京ガスなどが出資するバイオマス発電所の建設が始まった。木の枝や廃材を砕いたチップを燃やして発電する。

Unlike electricity generating stations that burn oil or coal, biomass plants are regarded as carbon-neutral facilities that don't produce additional CO2.

石油や石炭を燃やすのとは違い、CO2を新たには排出しないとみなされる。 

The plant in Higashi-Agatsuma will generate 13,600 kilowatts of electricity when completed, enough to meet the demand of 23,000 households. Wood chips used at the plant will be supplied by 20 companies in and around the prefecture. Although it is small in scale, the new project will create jobs and help revitalize the local economy. Policy support should be given to such local initiatives across the nation.

 出力1万3600キロワットで、2万3千世帯の電力をまかなえる。木くずは群馬県周辺の20社が供給する。規模は小さくても、雇用が生まれ地方経済の活性化に役立つ。こうした事業が各地に育つよう支援したい。 

The nation can maintain healthy economic growth while sharply reducing its CO2 emissions, according to the National Institute for Environmental Studies and other research institutions.

 CO2の排出量を大きく減らしながら、同時に経済成長を続けられる、と国立環境研究所などは分析している。

The earlier the necessary change is made, the more likely it is that investment, even if it is small, will produce big benefits. The government should lead the way by accelerating the change.

「チェンジ」が早ければ早いほど、少ない投資で大きな効果が期待できる。政府はその先頭に立たねばならない。

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