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Saturday, June 7, 2008

2050 greenhouse goals will be too late: EPI head


Staff writer

Pitches to cut worldwide greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 are too leisurely and must be brought forward by decades, Lester Brown, president and founder of the Earth Policy Institute in Washington, said Friday at a symposium in Tokyo.

"We are going to have to move much, much faster. I think the game will be over long before 2050," the environment expert said at Sophia University.

Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda is expected to release a new initiative on environmental preservation Monday in which Japan will propose reducing long-term its own greenhouse gas emissions by 60 percent to 80 percent from current levels by 2050. The initiative will not touch on medium-term goals.

But with the pace of global warming and its link to food prices rising worldwide, the world must "cut carbon emission by 80 percent by 2020," Brown said. The environmentalist, who has headed the nonprofit group EPI since 2001, providing reports and visions for a sustainable economy and environmental preservation, was in Tokyo to speak at the Sophia symposium.

Brown said that while past rises in grain prices were driven by particular events, including droughts and extreme weather, today's food crisis was trend-driven and induced by multiple factors, including population growth and grain being used to make fuel.

In such circumstance each country must work to reconstruct its energy resources, he said, urging Japan to develop its solar- and wind-power technologies and become less dependent on fossil fuels.

Iceland today heats over 90 percent of its homes with geothermal energy, Brown emphasized, questioning why Japan has been lagging in its attempts to build this field.

"Why is a country so rich in geothermal energy not converting it into electricity?" Brown asked. Japan could provide at least half, if not most, of its annual energy use from the carbon-free resource, he said.

While reconstruction of energy use may impose difficulties, the overheating of the planet and the food inflation crisis are reasons enough to quickly do so, he said.



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