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Sunday, June 22, 2008
Nobel laureate raps Japan for avoiding midterm carbon goal
By JUN HONGO
YOKOHAMA — Japan's reasons for not committing to a medium-term target for cutting carbon emissions are "unfounded," the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change told The Japan Times on Saturday.
Rajendra Pachauri, who heads a group of scientists who are researching the effects of global warming, said Japan should not fear the cost of restricting carbon gas emissions or the consequences that might it have on corporate Japan.
"Whenever there is challenge, the Japanese industry has been able to rise to the occasion," he said.
Pachauri, who acknowledged that Japan is already an energy-sufficient society, said bold targets could help its industry make substantial progress and set the standard for future energy use worldwide.
The Nobel laureate said he was "a little surprised" that Japan is hesitating to take the lead in climate change policies, especially since it has been proactive in promoting energy-efficiency since the oil shocks of the 1970s.
"Some major commitments on the part of the developed countries must be made first" Pachauri stressed, explaining that developing countries will only join a global effort to cut carbon emissions after countries like Japan and the United States spearhead the trend.
Meanwhile, the chairman also questioned portions of a proposal made by Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda regarding Japan's agenda on climate policies.
In a news conference on June 9, Fukuda pledged to cut Japan's carbon emissions by 60 to 80 percent by 2050. He did not make any commitment to a midterm goal, but said Japan would be able to reduce emissions 14 percent by 2020 from its levels in 2005.
Pachauri said that no matter what agreement is reached on a post-Kyoto Protocol pact, 1990 should be the base line rather than 2005.
He also voiced doubts about Japan's proposal of a "sectoral approach," which aims to cut carbon emissions by focusing on promoting optimal energy use within each industrial sector.
"Infeasibility and complexity makes it very difficult for countries to accept it and implement it," Pachauri said, explaining that the system would be too complicated to function under different countries and in diverse economies.
Pachauri acknowledged that the world "has lacked a sense of urgency" and "wasted far too much time" in fighting climate change, but that he remained optimistic because the technology to drastically reduce the effects of greenhouse gases is already available.
"What we need is a set of policies in which these technologies can be used," Pachauri said, expressing hope that Japan will lead July's Group of Eight summit in Toyako, Hokkaido, and come out with specific statements that can guide the creation of an international framework by next year.
Pachauri arrived in Japan Saturday to speak on Asia's climate change policies at a symposium in Yokohama.
The symposium was hosted by the nonprofit think tank Institute for Global Environmental Strategies.