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  • Proposal for Combating Global Warming   Toward an Equitable Agreement in Accord with Japan’s National Interests
2008.07.25 (Fri)

Proposal for Combating Global Warming   Toward an Equitable Agreement in Accord with Japan’s National Interests

Proposal for Combating Global Warming

Toward an Equitable Agreement in Accord with Japan’s National Interests

On June 9, 2008, with the Lake Toya Summit approaching, the Japanese government issued Prime Minister Fukuda’s “Vision on Global Warming.” Unfortunately, we find that vision lacking in coherence and substance. Furthermore, it offers little specifics about the procedures or strategies that will bring it to fruition. More than 10 years have elapsed since the worldwide debate over global warming began. The fact that the first commitment period specified in the Kyoto Protocol has already begun makes Fukuda’s vision seem vainer . It does not even begin to accord with Japans security and national interests, or to demonstrate international leadership.

We have subjected the Kyoto Protocol to careful scrutiny, focusing on what we believe are the essentials of the global warming problem. Below we offer our recommendations for a new framework that is equitable and effective, and consistent with national interests.

Summary of Recommendations

1. Global warming is not simply an environmental problem; it is also an economic problem and, ultimately, will affect the fate of Japan . We must propose a strategy that accords with the often conflicting economic interests of other nations, as well as with our own national security and national interests.

2. Japan must acknowledge the ineffectiveness of the Kyoto Protocol and, having disassociated itself in a positive manner from that agreement, offer proposals for the new framework.

3. The new framework must be based on analysis and review conducted from a scientific perspective; Japan’s technological achievements must be duly recognized.

4. I n order for Japan to participate in the new framework , n ot only economically advanced nations, but also other major polluting nations must be required to submit pledges of accountability.

5. A carbon-emissions trading system should not be instituted prematurely.

6. The Japanese government should draft and present a specific plan for the structure of a low-carbon economy (whose ultimate goal is energy independence), along with the policies intended to achieve such an economy, without delay.

7. The Japanese government must give priority to national security and national interests, rather than to the interests of individual ministries and agencies.

8. If the problems described above are not addressed by the new framework, the Japanese government should unilaterally disclose Japan’s own emissions reduction program, which will reduce greenhouse gases, and make a public p ledge to implement that program, but should defer participation in the next framework.

Recommendations

1. Global warming is not simply an environmental problem; it is also an economic problem and, ultimately, will affect the fate of Japan . We must propose a strategy that accords with the often conflicting economic interests of other nations, as well as with our own national security and national interests.

It is not difficult to recognize that the preservation of the Earth’s environment is the single most important challenge we must meet if the human race is to survive. It is equally simple for the nations of the world to promise to put aside their own interests, profess their love for our planet, and declare that their citizens are citizens of the world. However, by relying on sentiments of this sort (good will and morality) during negotiations between sovereign nations, we risk trivializing environmental problems and distancing ourselves even further from a realistic solution. It makes sense to describe global warming as an environmental problem that affects the entire human race. But it is just as important to recognize that global warming is also an economic problem that pits the interests of nations against one another, and may even threaten the security and interests of some nations.

We must approach environmental problems with the realization that the purpose of negotiations between sovereign states is the pursuit of national interests. The most expeditious route to take in our effort to forestall global warming involves extricating ourselves from the biased Kyoto Protocol, and engaging in scientific and technical debates that will guide us as we embark on a quest for a framework with sustainable, long-term solutions. The crux of the problem is not the choice of methodology (carbon emissions trading, the sectoral approach, etc.). We must face the fact that, ultimately, negotiations are tactical maneuvering among nations to determine who will bear the expense of preventing global warming. Otherwise, we will not be able to take effective action.

2. Japan must acknowledge the ineffectiveness of the Kyoto Protocol and, having disassociated itself in a positive manner from that agreement, offer proposals for the new framework.

The Kyoto Protocol has drawn attention to the importance of implementing environmental programs on a global scale. However, from Japan’s point of view, the agreement is arbitrary and does not protect Japan’s interests. Nor does it serve global interests, as far as effectiveness in preventing global warming is concerned. Its effectiveness (or lack thereof) must be subjected to scrutiny before we contemplate or enter into negotiations for the new framework. The nations of the world must be made aware of the flaws in the Kyoto Protocol, so that a new, effective framework can be formulated.


Notable for its absence in the Kyoto Protocol is a scientific perspective; the agreement is neither fair nor objective. . It is, in no uncertain terms, a failure. Nevertheless, even though the Kyoto Protocol has yet to be subjected to careful scientific scrutiny, the debate has shifted to the new framework. Atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases has not been determined directly, but the spotlight now shines on procedures (e.g., carbon emissions trading). The real problem, the prevention of global warming, has been trivialized to the point where it is now simply a technical problem. As a result, the nations of the world are not sufficiently aware of the seriousness or urgency of global warming. Instead, the advanced nations and the developing nations are engaged in a game of chicken. Additionally, a moral hazard has arisen in some of the major polluting nations, which are attempting to evade cost sharing, insisting that the advanced nations should pay the bill.

Deficiencies of the Kyoto Protocol

· The Protocol’s most serious deficiency is the absence of scientific or technical debate.

· Because the Kyoto Protocol prescribes regulatory principles in the form of predetermined numerical targets, negotiators were reduced to engaging in political and diplomatic games, instead of conducting a scientific debate.

· The baseline year (1990) and initial apportionments of emission reduction targets lack a credible scientific foundation; both were unfair decisions motivated by political bargaining.

· As long as the Kyoto Protocol remains in force, developing nations may evade the obligation to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

· Because the Kyoto Protocol compels advanced nations to reduce emissions, but places no such obligation on developing nations, its effectiveness cannot be guaranteed.

· Means of ensuring compliance, as stated in the Kyoto Protocol, are one-sided. Ratifying advanced nations are penalized for failing to achieve numerical targets, while non-ratifying advanced nations are not. Moreover, although the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997, eight years elapsed before it went into force. The U.S. has signed the Kyoto Protocol, but has not ratified it. Canada also signed the Protocol, but later announced that it would be unable to meet its numerical targets. Therefore, the Kyoto Protocol’s effectiveness as an international treaty is extremely doubtful.

· The Kyoto Protocol went into force in February 2005, without being ratified by the U.S., the (then) largest single emitter of CO2 (the reason given for non-ratification was the lack of participation by developing nations). Furthermore, since the increase in emissions from developing nations (which had no reduction obligations) turned out to be much greater than anticipated, the Kyoto Protocol has been emasculated, because it can address only 30% of the world’s CO2 emissions.

Why did Japan both sign and ratify an agreement that is patently unfair? During negotiations for the new framework, the Japanese government and Japan’s industries must unite in an effort to produce a fair agreement that accords with our national interests. That effort must be preceded by a careful analysis and review, from a scientific perspective, of the deficiencies outlined above, as well as discussions of greenhouse gas emission reduction technologies.


3. The new framework must be based on analysis and review conducted from a scientific perspective; Japan’s technological achievements must be duly recognized.

In 2005, the principal emitters of energy-derived CO2 produced approximately 26.6 billion tons. By nation, the percentages are as follows: U.S., 21%; the PRC, 19%; Russia, 6%; Japan, 4%; India, 4%; Germany, 3%; U.K., 2%; Canada, 2%; Italy, 2%; South Korea, 2%; Iran, 2%; Mexico, 1%; France, 1%; Australia, 1%; and others, 30%. According to World Energy Outlook 2007 issued by the IEA (International Energy Agency), the figures for fossil fuel-derived CO2 emissions in 2005 are, in billions of tons: U.S., 5.8; PRC, 5.1; Russia, 1.5; Japan, 1.2; and India, 1.1. The differences among these figures attest to the high level of Japanese technology. And according to a survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy, Japan’s contribution to global warming is a mere 3.7%, compared with 30.3% for the U.S., 27.7% for Europe, and 13.7% for Russia. If we look at greenhouse gas emissions relative to GDP, Japan’s emissions are only 10-20% of those of the U.S. and Europe — another indication of the high level of Japanese technology.

This phenomenon can be further verified by comparing CO2 emissions and primary energy consumption relative to GDP. The figures from 2005 (kg CO2 /US$) are: Japan, 0.24; EU (27 nations), 0.43; U.S., 0.53; South Korea, 0.70; Australia, 0.80; India, 1.78; and the PRC, 2.68. Furthermore, primary energy consumption relative to GDP in 2006 (primary energy consumption (oil-equivalent tons)/GDP (1,000 US$)) was (using Japan as the standard:): 1.9 for the EU (27 nations), 2.0 for the U.S., 3.2 for South Korea, 3.2 for Canada, 6.0 for Thailand, 6.0 for the Middle East, 8.1 for Indonesia, 8.7 for the PRC, 9.2 for India, and 18.0 for Russia.

Yet another indication of the high level of Japanese technology is the energy-saving technology used by our steel industry. If the steel industries in all the world’s nations adopted that technology, they could reduce their CO2 emissions by the following amounts (in millions of tons of CO2 per year), using Japan as the standard: U.S., 55; Canada, 9; U.K., 7; France, 8; Germany, 16; Australia, 5; South Korea, 5; PRC, 80; India, 20; and Russia, 46.

Proposing a framework within which Japan’s superior technology can be evaluated fairly assuredly accords with not only the interests of Japan, but also of the entire world. It is the responsibility of the Japanese government to ensure that there is worldwide recognition of these technological achievements in the formulation of the next framework. (See attachments.)

4. I n order for Japan to participate in the new framework , n ot only economically advanced nations, but also other major polluting nations must be required to submit pledges of accountability.


The argument that the advanced nations should be held accountable is unrealistic. If we cling to it, we cannot count on any meaningful reduction of CO2 emissions. In 1992 there was a rational basis for this argument (cumulative emissions produced by the advanced nations since the Industrial Revolution were overwhelmingly higher than those of other nations). However, the crafters of the Kyoto Protocol failed to anticipate the subsequent growth of developing nations (mainly India and the PRC) and the concomitant spiraling of their greenhouse gas emissions. The distinction between developing and advanced nations no longer makes sense. Moreover, using the same argument that has been applied to the advanced nations, the main polluters (the PRC and India) should not be permitted to evade their responsibility to developing nations with low carbon emissions. And if we are to take the latecomer’s advantage into consideration, the main polluters should be required to bear a specific portion of the financial burden. (See attachments.)

5. A carbon-emissions trading system should not be instituted prematurely.

We must return to our starting point, i.e., greenhouse gas reduction, which is originally the objective of measures to combat global warming. We must not rely on simplistic, expedient methods like the so-called Kyoto mechanism or emissions trading. Current emissions trading, which is not based on greenhouse gas concentration standards, has already fueled a politico-economic game whose purpose is no longer emissions trading per se. We must remind ourselves that it is crucial to encourage emissions reduction by instituting a CO2 tax or similar scheme if emissions trading is to function effectively. After making a concerted effort to reduce CO2 and other greenhouse gases, primarily through a CO2 tax, we must implement emissions trading domestically and investigate the implementation of the next step — international emissions trading.

6. The Japanese government should draft and present a specific plan for the structure of a low-carbon economy (whose ultimate goal is energy independence), along with the policies intended to achieve such an economy, without delay.

If Japan cannot make the transition to a low-carbon economy and society, we will not be able to withstand international competition. This transition is also essential for Japan’s sustainable development, global warming notwithstanding. On this point, Prime Minister Fukuda’s “Vision on Global Warming” is not mistaken. However, his failure to present a clear picture of a low-carbon society or a strategic, long-term scenario for its creation has engendered an irresponsible attitude that goes against national interests, and has contributed to the decline in Japanese corporations’ international competitiveness. The phrase “10 lost years” could be applied just as aptly to the government’s irresponsible attitude toward environmental problems during the decade since the Kyoto Protocol was adopted as to financial problems resulting from the bursting of the bubble economy in the 1990s.

Today a debate rages over the wisdom of specifying total emissions targets. However, for targets to be compelling, Japan must present a specific scenario for the creation of a low-carbon society, and obtain domestic support for that scenario. Presenting targets for political reasons alone, without presenting a specific implementation plan, may lead to a repetition of the folly of the Kyoto Protocol. Therefore, we must first define the steps to be taken to create a low-carbon society. Then we can define total emissions targets, but we must ensure that those targets do not take on a life of their own. Taking the lead in drafting a post-Kyoto Protocol agreement means being first on the path leading to a low-carbon society. To that end, Japan must show initiative domestically.


To create a low-carbon society, Japan absolutely must become energy-independent. To ensure energy security, the diversification of energy sources is vital. To achieve that diversification it is not necessary to choose between nuclear power and natural energy, but to seek the best strategic mix. Because it is a very effective method both in terms of environmental preservation and a stable supply of energy, nuclear power generation is an important energy source that must be promoted. But first we must convince the Japanese public of its safety, and make consensus-building efforts. However, we must be extremely cautious about transferring our nuclear technology to other nations, for security reasons.

To achieve the best mix for a medium-term forecast, we will need to formulate potent policy initiatives, such as an energy-purchasing system, investment tax credits, low-interest loans, subsidies and mandatory introduction of low-carbon or renewable energy generation. However, as the situation stands now, we have no choice but to rely, to a certain extent, on fossil fuels. Therefore, it is important to make transitional moves toward a low-carbon society by, for instance, developing CCS (carbon-capture-and-storage) technology for carbon dioxide and, as an ongoing policy, to develop, promote and propagate energy-saving and efficiency-enhancement technologies. The expansion of renewable energy (e.g., electric power generated by sunlight, wind power, hydraulic power or geothermal energy; and the manufacture of hydrogen) as core energy sources to replace fossil energy would be medium-to-long-term goals. The Japanese government should lead a debate (involving both the public and private sectors) intended to formulate comprehensive policy directives for economic incentives and financial resources.

7. The Japanese government must give priority to national security and national interests, rather than to the interests of individual ministries and agencies.

Comments made by persons involved in the negotiations for the Kyoto Protocol tell us that Japan’s approach was inept. To avoid repeating a mistake (the Kyoto Protocol), government ministries and agencies must do away with their traditional insularity and work together. Our government must position global warming as a national problem, and direct the branches of its central bureaucracy to unite in an effort to resolve that problem with one goal in mind: to serve Japan’s national interests. Mindful that its lack of leadership has resulted in the implementation of an unfair agreement, wasted a decade during which progress could have been toward preventing global warming, and forced the Japanese people to accept emissions trading and similarly burdensome policies, the government should immediately take steps to produce an effective plan so that the next 10 years are not also wasted.

The negotiations for the next framework, to be completed by the end of 2009, will last for 18 months — a long time. Therefore, we urge the Japanese government to promptly appoint a strategic team of negotiators from both the public and private sectors, and to make every conceivable effort to ensure national security and protect national interests.


8. If the problems described above are not addressed by the new framework, the Japanese government should unilaterally disclose Japan’s own emissions reduction program, which will reduce greenhouse gases, and make a public p ledge to implement that program, but should defer participation in the new framework.

The government’s first priority should be to announce, both internationally and domestically, that the Kyoto Protocol is unfair and inequitable, and will, therefore, never be effective in combating global warming. Then, as the host nation, Japan should not only insist that all parties participate in the shaping of methods for combating global warming, but also ensure that such action is taken. Otherwise, the new framework will be a repetition of the Kyoto Protocol, and methods to counteract global warming will be such in name only. Moreover, we may form a framework that is inconsistent with both national and global interests — nothing more than a politico-economic game.

“Diligence is the mother of good fortune.” This universal principle should be applied to the resolution of environmental problems. A technological approach to combating these problems would be indisputably far more effective in reducing greenhouse gases than any other. It is a great loss, in a global sense, that Japan has not been given due credit for developing the most advanced energy-saving technologies in the world, and that no appropriate mechanism has been designed to make them available to the rest of the world. However, by transferring this technology without compensation (or with nominal compensation), we would risk discouraging another nations from making the independent, continuing effort necessary for the reduction of greenhouse gases, creating a moral hazard, and encouraging free riders.

The Japanese government is currently proposing the sectoral approach. Thus, it behooves the government to state explicitly to the Japanese people how that approach will resolve the problems outlined above, what Japan’s financial burden will be if it is adopted, and whether shouldering that burden would serve national interests. When proposing technology transfer or financial support to developing nations, the government must demonstrate to the Japanese people how they will benefit from their contributions, and how these actions will be effective in the long run in forestalling global warming. If we cannot obtain the acceptance of other participating nations of the basic problems stated in 2-5 above, Japan should unilaterally disclose its own greenhouse gas reduction program and make a public promise to implement that program. But it should defer participation in the new framework.