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2009年9月 9日 (水)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 8(IHT/Asahi: September 9,2009)
EDITORIAL: Emission cut target

Yukio Hatoyama, president of the Democratic Party of Japan who will become the next prime minister, pledged Monday his new administration's commitment to combating global warming at the Asahi World Environment Forum 2009, hosted by The Asahi Shimbun.
"I would like to hear people say that a regime change in Japan transformed the nation's policy on climate change and contributed to the future of humanity," he said.

The regime change is taking place amid the global attempt to create a new international framework that would replace the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. International negotiations will climax with the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in December.

The toughest challenge is to overcome the huge gap that still lies between the world's advanced nations and newly emerging or developing nations. The advanced nations are under considerable pressure to carry the ball with bold action.

It is of great significance that Hatoyama responded to the challenge by explicitly stating that Japan would aim to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent from the 1990 level by 2020. This is a far more ambitious target than the 15-percent reduction from the 2005 level indicated three months ago by Prime Minister Taro Aso.

Hatoyama told the Asahi forum that once his administration is in place, he would announce a "Hatoyama initiative" for providing technical and financial aid to developing nations.

He also noted that the initiative will include assistance plans to reduce damage from global warming. This should greatly help Japan in its attempt to persuade newly emerging and developing nations to compromise so that a global accord can be forged.

The message from Japan's next prime minister has made the world sense that Japan is about to seriously revise its approach to climate change.

Japan is now basically falling in step with European nations. This should prompt the developed world to unite and aim for higher goals.

This, in turn, could provide a needed tail wind for U.S. President Barack Obama, who is trying to persuade a cautious Congress.

Once advanced nations start acting with purpose, China will no longer be able to keep dragging its feet. China and the United States together account for about 40 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. The next climate change framework will be viable only if these two giants are fully on board.

But we cannot stress enough that Japan's target of a 25-percent reduction from the 1990 level will be difficult to attain. Stiff resistance from industry will be inevitable, as well as objections from people to various increased burdens that are expected.

It was probably for this very reason that Hatoyama stated, "We aim to achieve that goal through political will, by mobilizing all policy steps required."

The new administration needs to swiftly formulate specific plans, such as those pertaining to the domestic emission credit trading market and climate change tax. It should prepare a clear road map for implementing each measure to reach the goal.

We also remind the Hatoyama administration to have the wisdom to review some of its policies that could prove counterproductive to emission reductions--namely, the promised abolition of the temporary surcharge on gasoline and other taxes and the elimination of expressway tolls.

A U.N. climate change summit is scheduled for later this month, and Hatoyama reportedly intends to bring ambitious proposals to the table. But what he needs most is the sort of leadership that will enable him to persuade the Japanese people and build up a national consensus.


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