Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases remains a vital issue that the international community has yet to tackle. Failure to adequately respond to the threat of global warming will bring devastating results to human beings.
Developed countries especially have a great responsibility to take sufficient measures to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases because their industrial activities have emitted huge amounts of such gases over many decades.
Regrettably the Japanese general public’s interest in the issue appears to be low these days, and very few political leaders of the Liberal Democratic Party government are ready to take the initiative to deal with global warming. The Abe administration must drop its indifferent attitude toward the issue and accelerate efforts to mitigate global warming.
The Democratic Party of Japan introduced the goal of reducing Japan’s emissions of greenhouse gases 25 percent by 2020 from 1990 levels. But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe ordered a review of the goal, suggesting that Japan will slacken its efforts to reduce emissions. In fact, Mr. Abe has said little about the problem of global warming and has not shown any leadership in tackling it.
Japanese politicians must pay serious attention to what is happening, and what will happen, to Earth. In mid-May, the Mauna Loa observatory in Hawaii reported that levels of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, topped 400 parts per million (ppm), marking the highest level in the past 3 million years.
“With 400 ppm CO₂ in the atmosphere, we have crossed a historic threshold and entered a new danger zone,” United Nations climate chief Christiana Figueres warned.
The International Energy Agency said that if countries take appropriate measures to substantially cut emissions between now and 2020, they will be able to, at least in principle, eventually limit global temperature increase to 2 degrees Celsius over the long term from the pre-Industrial Revolution level. But it warned that if they “continue business as usual,” the temperature will rise 3.6 to 5.3 degrees Celsius.
It is clear that compared with the DPJ government, the Abe administration is not making aggressive efforts to increase renewable energy sources. In the absence of regulation reform designed to promote green energy sources, the LDP government has loosened regulations for constructing coal-burning power plants. In short, it is kowtowing to power companies.
Another sign of such kowtowing is its attempt to restart nuclear power plants despite the fact that no safe technology to store radioactive waste has been established.
Japan has refused to make an emissions reduction commitment for the second commitment period, 2013-2020, under the Kyoto Protocol. Thus Japan lacks both a legally binding emission-reduction goal and a concrete plan to reduce emissions.
Since 1992, greenhouse gas emissions from Japan’s industrial activities, including emissions from office buildings and power stations, have barely declined. As a result, Japan can no longer boast that it is a leading nation in its efforts to reduce global warming gas emissions. The government should end its complacency and take necessary actions to reverse this tread.