It will not be easy to achieve the new reduction target for greenhouse gases adopted by the government, though it was made with an emphasis on its feasibility. To accomplish the target, both the public and private sectors will be required to work together for energy saving.
The government officially decided and submitted to the United Nations an emissions-reduction target for greenhouse gases to reduce them by 26 percent by fiscal 2030 in comparison to fiscal 2013 emissions.
The target was made based on Japan’s estimated composition of power sources in 2030.
According to that estimate, Japan will use less thermal power generation that depends on imported fuel and continue nuclear power generation. The ratio of renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power will be increased, too. Under such an energy policy, the highest reduction rate possible was calculated.
Use of nuclear power generation, which does not emit carbon dioxide (CO2), has a very significant meaning as a measure against global warming. Reduction of power generation costs and other issues will pose challenges in generating electricity with renewable energy.
Greenhouse gas emissions have sharply increased from business facilities such as department stores, supermarkets and office buildings. According to the new target, their emissions will be cut by 40 percent. To achieve it, energy-saving lighting equipment and office machines must be introduced.
Currently, member countries are working on their own reduction targets toward the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) to be held in Paris at the end of this year.
Some of the members — including the United States, China and the European Union — have already submitted their targets to the United Nations.
Onus to cut emissions
If an agreement is made at COP21 on a new framework of measures against global warming from 2020, the members will start working to achieve the goals they have presented.
It will be significant in the new framework to impose obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on every signatory, learning a lesson from the mistake of the Kyoto Protocol that imposed such obligations only on developed countries. We expect Japan to play a leading role in making an equal and fair framework since it has presented a reduction target that stands up to those submitted by the United States and Europe.
Also, a mechanism should be built in the framework to make signatories observe their own goals. Only laying out goals will not stop the progression of global warming.
On the other hand, rigidly obliging the parties to achieve the targets, there would then arise the danger of repeating the failure of the Kyoto Protocol, which was hamstrung because of the non-participation of the United States.
From the standpoint of how to accomplish the aim of slashing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions globally, a framework having actual effectiveness must be formulated. What should be done is, for one thing, to oblige each country to report on the progress of its emission reduction measures at regular intervals. It will also be necessary to make signatories check the emission reduction efforts with each other, while prodding each other to raise the targets if possible. In addition, a ban should be placed on all signatories from allowing their respective targets to be lowered.
China, which has been under no obligation to cut back emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, is the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, accounting for one-fourth of the world’s total. How Beijing addresses the challenge of cutting back on emissions is a key to whether the emission reduction efforts of the world can prove successful.
Japan, in cooperation with the United States, European countries and others, must urge China to proactively make endeavors for reducing its emissions.