Japan’s technological capability has a great role to play in working toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the entire world.
A proposal for approving the Paris Agreement, a new framework for measures against global warming, has been passed at a plenary session of the House of Representatives. After making a Cabinet decision on the accord, the government has completed procedures to ratify the pact.
The Paris Agreement, which has replaced the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, took effect on Nov. 4.
The ratification of the accord by both the United States and China in September has accelerated that move, prompting India and the European Union to ratify the pact successively in early October. The agreement has come into effect less than one year after it was adopted in December last year.
A major challenge regarding the new framework, to which all greenhouse gas emitters are party, is to make the scheme work effectively.
A new U.N. conference on global warming — officially titled the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP22) — is now being held in Marrakesh, Morocco. The meeting aims to discuss detailed rules in preparation for the start of the agreement’s implementation in 2020, including methods to be adopted in reporting the amount of emissions from signatory nations and verifing their reports, as well as what should be done to assist developing countries in this respect.
A meeting of nations signatory to the Paris Agreement will also be held. Japan will participate in the meeting, but as an observer this time. This is due to the fact that Japan failed to ratify the agreement by the deadline to be met by a signatory that wants to join the meeting as a formal member, partly because priority was given to Diet discussions on a proposal to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact and those on related bills.
Achieve growth as well
Although there is criticism that Japan was way behind at the start, it is unlikely that this nation will suffer a substantial disadvantage. The upcoming meeting rather seems to be something of a get-together for the signatories, and its substantial discussions will start early in the next year or later. Japan should make every effort to help lay down fair rules.
Japan’s target is to achieve a 26 percent reduction in emissions in fiscal 2030 compared to the fiscal 2013 levels. To this end, it is necessary to curtail emissions by 40 percent, both in the category of households and that of business operations at offices and elsewhere. Overcoming this high hurdle requires efforts by all sectors of society to achieve the goal.
What is important is to achieve both economic growth and emission reductions. Viewing the Paris Agreement as a provider of business opportunities, a number of domestic corporations are working on the development of new technology and products. Such products as fuel cell-powered vehicles and energy-saving homes equipped with electricity-generating equipment are a good example of that endeavor.
There is also a pressing need to reactivate idle nuclear power plants that do not discharge carbon dioxide.
If they continue to remain suspended despite meeting rigorous safety standards, which makes it necessary to rely on coal-fired and other power generation methods, doubts would be aroused about Japan’s level of commitment to combating global warming.
International contribution is also important in this respect. The Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM) has been proposed by Japan as a system by which the nation supports energy conservation efforts by developing countries, which allows it to count parts of their emission reductions as part of its own curtailment. The JCM scheme should be further spread.
Industrial, academic and government sectors should also unite efforts to develop innovative technology, such as underground carbon dioxide storage and the creation of materials using artificial photosynthesis.