As temperatures rise, extremely high temperatures and very heavy rainfall are becoming more frequent occurrences in various parts of the world. Unless measures to curb global warming are implemented, during the next 100 years the average temperature is expected to increase by 2.6-4.8 degrees Celsius and the average sea level is expected to rise by 45-82 cm. Doing nothing is simply not an option. As an environmentally advanced nation, Japan needs to demonstrate leadership in preventing global warming.
1. Create a framework for reducing emissions at the global level: Gain the participation of China, the U.S., and India and establish an effective framework for reducing CO2 emissions globally
Global warming is a problem for the entire world. The key issue is whether major emitters such as China, the U.S., and India will act to curb their CO2 emissions. Japan is an advanced environmental nation as it has endeavored to reduce energy use and tackle environmental issues since the oil crises, and therefore has little room to cut emissions further. Being in charge of an advanced environmental nation, the Japanese government should play an active role in the creation of a new Framework Convention on Climate Change and engage in persistent diplomacy until an effective framework is established.
2. Carbon offsets at the global level: Expand the Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM)
To reduce CO2 emissions at the global level, it would be sensible for developing and emerging countries, etc. to reduce their emissions. That would facilitate carbon offsetting (a mechanism for offsetting CO2 emissions with technological innovation, afforestation, etc.) at the global level. The Joint Crediting Mechanism (JCM), which has been proposed by the Japanese government, could be used to enable advanced countries to achieve their reduction targets as it allows the bilateral evaluation of the contribution to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions of the proliferation and transfer to developing countries of technology, products, and systems for reducing such emissions. Going forward, the JCM should be expanded to enable Japanese technology to be used to reduce CO2 emissions in developing countries.
3. Realize a low-carbon society: Transform society with renewable energy, nuclear power, and hydrogen energy
Japan has set itself a long-term target of reducing CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. To meet this target, it will be essential to make the transition to a low-carbon society. More renewable-energy technology needs to be developed, but at the same time advanced countries need to select a realistic energy mix and use nuclear power safely.
In addition, hydrogen should play a central role in the establishment of a low-carbon society. Specifically, we should transform ourselves into a hydrogen energy society by developing technology for producing, transporting, and storing hydrogen, promote the proliferation of home fuel cells (Ene-Farm systems) and fuel-cell vehicles, promote the construction of hydrogen stations, and so on. Because the production of hydrogen requires the use of large quantities of fossil fuels, it is not yet a clean form of energy. We therefore have high hopes for the high-temperature test reactor (HTTR) developed by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency as it allows hydrogen to be produced without CO2 emissions.
4. U.N. carbon tax: Introduce a U.N. carbon tax to make U.N. contributions based on countries’ CO2 emissions
At present, emissions of greenhouse gases are at double the level that the earth can absorb. Bold and clever measures are therefore required to reduce CO2 emissions. We would therefore like to suggest the introduction of a “U.N. carbon tax” to penalize countries based on their CO2 emissions volume. This would give countries an incentive to reduce CO2 emissions. U.N. contributions would be determined based on countries’ CO2 emissions. If past CO2 emissions are also included, the dissatisfaction of the emerging countries with the advanced countries, which have been pumping out CO2 for many years, could probably be eased.