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Planning for Global Change in Japan

Item #d98sep34

Under the Kyoto Protocol, Japan has agreed to reduce CO2 emissions from its 1990 levels by 6% by 2010. Now, Japan’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has suggested that the country achieve one-third of that reduction by developing new technologies, conserving energy, and promoting nuclear power and that it attain the remaining two-thirds through emission tradeoffs with other nations and by absorption of CO2 by forests. The ministry has identified 20 technologies to improve or develop, including solar cells with triple the existing energy-conversion efficiency, semiconductors that consume only 1% of the power used by current devices, highly efficient energy- from-waste systems, hydrogen-fueled cars, heat-storage systems, and chlorofluorocarbon-free chemical processes, power generated in space, and methods to decompose and dispose of CO2. [”MITI Fleshes Out Greenhouse Gas Strategy,” Nikkei America (Aug. 12, 1998).]

In late September, the Japanese Diet passed legislation that constitutes the main thrust of Japan’s efforts to plan and implement programs to meet its reduction obligations. The bill covers six gases required to be reduced by the Kyoto Protocol: CO2, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluoro-carbons (PFCs) and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). It authorizes the government to approve policies drawn up by local administrations and citizens and to plan how to cut its own emissions. It also proposes the establishment of national and prefectural offices to study, report on, and publicize the progress of emission reductions. However, in the bill, the role of companies is limited to a best-effort basis, raising questions about the legislation’s effectiveness. [”Japan Diet Panel Approves Anti-Global Warming Bill,” Dow Jones Newswires (Oct. 1, 1998).]

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