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2014年4月16日 (水)


April 15, 2014
EDITORIAL: Measures to prevent climate catastrophe must be taken now

Many experts from around the world posed this bottom-line question about the challenge of global warming: Are we

going to continue marching toward a global environmental catastrophe?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the United Nations panel on the global warming issue, has

decided on the outlines of its new report.

The content is not much different from the previous report, released in 2007. But a huge body of studies carried out

in many countries over the past seven years has made global warming and its effects more clearly visible.


It can now be safely said that doubts about the existence and cause of harmful climate change have mostly been


If the current situation continues, the average global surface temperature at the end of this century will be 3.7-4.8

degrees higher than levels before the Industrial Revolution, according to the report. That would be a much greater

temperature increase than the international target of less than 2 degrees.


The harmful effects of rising temperatures on water resources and agricultural products are already being seen.

Concerns are growing over extreme weather conditions, such as heat waves, floods and typhoons, as well as rising

sea levels. These effects could cause the extinction of a wide range of species. Serious shortages of water and food

could spark wars.


Clearly, the world is running out of time. We need to take measures to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other

greenhouse gases to curb temperature rises. We also need to prepare for the consequences of rising temperatures,

like natural disasters and crop failures.


What must be done to limit temperature rises to below 2 degrees at the end of this century? Global emissions of

greenhouse gasses need to be reduced by between 40 percent and 70 percent from 2010 levels by the middle of this

century, and then brought down to zero by the end of the century. The target can likely be achieved only through

such dramatic emissions cuts, according to the report.


To overcome the tough challenge, it is important to step up efforts for energy conservation and the wider use of

renewable energy sources while promoting clean energy technologies, such as new thermal power generation

systems that do not spew greenhouse gases into the air.


Expanding nuclear power generation would increase other risks, such as nuclear proliferation and growing amounts

of radioactive waste. This is not an option that Japan should take when it is still struggling to deal with the

consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and come to terms with the lessons the accident has offered.


The U.N. Climate Summit 2014 in September will be a starting point for a year of accelerated efforts to conclude by

the end of 2015 a new international framework for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in and after 2020.

Independent efforts by individual countries would not do much to help improve the situation unless they are

coordinated and integrated into a global campaign. Concerted actions by the international community are crucial,

such as providing environmental technologies to developing countries and introducing unified carbon pricing for

slashing greenhouse gas emissions.


Countries like Britain, the United States, Germany, China and South Korea make regular investigations to identify and

assess problems caused by global warming and develop plans to respond to the problems under the leadership of the

central and local governments. The Japanese government is lagging behind this international trend.


Japan’s own targets for cutting its emissions, unveiled last year, have been internationally criticized as insufficient.

The Japanese government is still working on a response plan expected to be announced next year.

The government should act swiftly to set new emissions reduction targets that can win international support. It should

also establish a powerful system to work out effective policy responses to global warming, such as new programs to

mitigate damage from natural disasters and plans for energy-efficient urban development.


--The Asahi Shimbun, April 15


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