The white paper on the environment and a recycling-based society approved by the Cabinet expresses serious concern about global warming and stresses the importance of individual citizens taking conscious action to alleviate environmental problems and to help slow global warming. The white paper comes on the heels of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s call for a global effort to halve the amount of greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050 from “current levels” (without mentioning a specific baseline year.)

The white paper expresses a strong sense of crisis about global warming. It says that taking necessary measures in an accelerated manner is urgently needed to stop civilization from heading into a catastrophe. It calls for further improving energy-saving technologies and transferring them abroad. It adds that such technologies should be used throughout society.

The report is useful in helping raise individual citizens’ consciousness about energy savings and reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. It lists examples of how households can reduce CO2 emissions. A married couple with two children who switch to energy-savings appliances, including an air conditioner, refrigerator and TV set, can cut emissions by 44 percent. A married couple without children who make the switch can reduce them by 42 percent.

The white paper’s message is clear: The household sector, as well as the industrial sector, plays an important role in saving energy and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. Recently the government took out ads in newspapers calling on people to replace their incandescent bulbs at home with fluorescent bulbs since the latter last about six times longer and are about 75 percent less costly.

Japan wants to lead the fight against global warming, but first it must fulfill its obligations under the Kyoto Protocol. The white paper shows that grassroots efforts can make a significant contribution toward this goal.

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