Tokyo’s emissions crusader spills beans

by Tetsuji Ida

Kyodo

Teruyuki Ohno has spearheaded Tokyo’s fight against global warming for more than a decade.

The 60-year-old Ohno spent half of his 34-year career with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government working on environmental policies, most recently as director of its environment bureau until mid-July.

He led implementation of a system to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in April 2010, imposing a limit on discharges by large entities and allowing them to trade emissions credits.

The cap and trade scheme was the first of its kind in Asia, following similar programs in the European Union and some U.S. states.

“It was my long-sought goal ever since I returned to the environment bureau in 2004,” after working on other matters, Ohno said.

Many environmental experts have praised Tokyo’s program as the most rigorous and effective in the world.

In May, Ohno published a book titled “Jichitai no Energy Senryaku” (“A Local Government’s Energy Strategy”), describing his behind-the-scenes struggles until the system’s introduction.

“I believe that the key to success was my turning down any opaque lobbying and opening all related discussions to the public,” he said.

Referring to materials he collected overseas, Ohno argues in the book that Keidanren, the nation’s foremost business lobby, objected to the introduction of the cap and trade scheme based on flawed reasoning.

In response to the March 2011 nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant, Ohno also hammered out the metropolitan government’s energy-saving program to weather a looming electricity supply crunch in the capital.

Before working on climate strategy, Ohno introduced an initiative to tighten control of exhaust emissions from diesel trucks.

Now secretary-general of the Japan Renewable Energy Foundation in Tokyo, he explained, “I have always said that civil organizations will play an important role (in fighting climate change).”

The foundation, set up in September 2011 by Softbank Corp. President Masayoshi Son following the Fukushima meltdowns, brings together experts from around the nation and abroad to craft policy recommendations aimed at promoting alternative energies, such as solar, wind and geothermal power.

“Although my position has changed, I will continue to pursue the same goal: to create a sustainable energy society in which we have no worries about global warming,” Ohno said.