A key government panel reviewing the nation’s Basic Environment Plan released an interim report calling for the introduction of economic measures to resolve environmental problems.
The report, prepared by the Central Environment Council, an advisory body to the Environment Agency chief, and released Wednesday, maps out strategies for tackling 11 priority areas.
The proposed revisions to the basic plan will be open to public comment for one month beginning next week before being finalized by the end of this year.
In priority areas such as global warming and waste reduction, the report calls for studying economic incentives such as a deposit system for returning cans and bottles and charging for waste pickup.
In compiling the report, the agency tried to stipulate the need to introduce a carbon tax as a measure to stem global warming, but the idea was shot down by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry and the Finance Ministry.
In the end, the draft simply called for economic measures.
Other priority areas include chemical pollution, biodiversity, local environmental initiatives and contributing to international environmental efforts.
To ensure the plan is effectively carried out, the council also called for greater power to be given to the Environment Agency to check other ministries’ progress in carrying out the policy.
To this end, the proposed revision would mandate concerned ministries to submit annual reports evaluating progress in meeting goals outlined in the environment plan. The Central Environment Council would then review the reports and send them on to the Diet for review.
The proposed revision would also rearrange the four long-term objectives of the plan. They are: symbiosis with nature; creation of a waste-recycling society; more participation by individuals and groups in environmental efforts; and contributions to international efforts.
Under the existing plan, all four are given equal weight. But in the revised plan, public participation and international contributions are seen as key to realizing a waste-free society that coexists with nature.
“We have tried to go beyond just listing policy options by putting them in a strategic framework,” said council head Akio Morishima.
Asked at a news conference about the lack of numerical objectives in the revision, Morishima said the nature of the plan is to point out the direction, not delve into figures and percentages.
“This is truly a midterm report,” he said. “There is still work to be done.”
One area that is most likely to change before the report is finalized is global warming.
The wording of this section could change drastically, depending on the outcome of a U.N. conference on global warming, to be held in the Netherlands in November.
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