<Selected Articles from “Kiko Network’s Email Magazine”August Edition>
Government, the National Diet and NGOs
Reaction to Abolition of the Climate Change Bill: Mottainai*
(*Mottainai roughly means “what a waste” and is a Japanese phrase used when something valuable is not utilized in proper way.)
The MAKE the RULE Campaign committee recently celebrated two years since its initial launch by holding an event called “Scorching Summer: MAKE the RULE at the Next National Assembly!” on August the 1st at Hibiya, Tokyo. The event was supported by three celebrities: comedian Lou Oshiba, actress Takami Yoshimoto, and radio DJ Sascha who all spoke about their various environmental activities as well as sharing information about Japan’s policy on climate change and the situation of renewable energy implementation via a quiz show. In addition, pianist Kanako Ishihara brought the arena to life by performing a song called “Action” in order to convey the message that everybody’s action is required if the MAKE the RULE Campaign is truly to succeed in bringing about the creation of a law on climate change.
Finally, in reaction to the abandonment of the bill on climate change at the previous Cabinet session, Lou Oshiba’s song Mottainai which had previously been broadcast by NHK was performed. All present joined the singing and dancing which called for recovery of the discarded bill.
Hatoyama Appointed for a High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability
On August 9th, the United Nations Secretary General announced the establishment of a High-Level Panel on Global Sustainability (HLPGS). The panel will be co-chaired by President Tarja Halonen of Finland and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa. The former Prime Minister of Japan Yukio Hatoyama was also named as one of the panelists. Recognizing that problems such as water scarcity, the loss of biodiversity and shifting consumption patterns require aggressive new approaches in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, the panel will seek to address poverty and climate change simultaneously by exploring possible pathways to the construction of a green, low-carbon, global economy. The body will compile its final report by the end of 2011, of which the findings will be incorporated into the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio De Janeiro 2012), in addition to annual meetings of the UNFCCC.
Since the panel will be focused on climate change, a secondary role of providing additional policy briefings about climate change negotiations is currently under investigation.
Details of Feed-in Tariff Program Announced by Agency for Natural Resources and Energy
On August 23rd the project team for the Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff Program met for its fifth session where the secretary revealed the basic policy concerning the scheme’s introduction. Out of various approaches considered at a prior meeting on March 31st, Case 4 was eventually selected for implementation. The scheme will target all renewable energy sources in current use. Concerning solar electricity, only excess electricity generated from new solar installations will qualify for buy-back which will initially include the establishment of a high purchase price that will then be lowered incrementally over a 10 year period. All other non-solar energy will be bought at a uniform price of 15-20 yen/kWh over a fixed term of 15-20 years. According to a study, the scheme promises to increase renewable energy production by 32000-35000 MW by the 10th year and reduce CO2 emissions by 24-29 Mt-CO2 which is only 2.0-2.4% reduction from 1990 base year.
The project team’s work was originally supposed to realize the feed-in tariff policy set out in the Climate Bill (the Basic Act on Global Warming Countermeasures) and the Democratic Party of Japan’s manifesto, but fears were raised in the process concerning possible economic repercussions on the nation. This resulted in a uniform price being set for all non-solar renewable energies in a scheme that fails to create genuine incentives due to the fact that it does not account for the characteristics of each individual energy source.
Enquiries may be directed to: Agency for Natural Resources and Energy Renewable Energies Promotion Office at: (81) 03-3501-2342
Discussions on Domestic Emissions Trading Scheme Shifting Towards Other Policies
The Policy Instruments Working Group affiliated with the Industrial Structure Council under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) met for its third session on July 24th, 2010. The overseas survey team reported results from an EU and US visit which concluded that cap and trade emissions trading schemes are no longer the core ingredient of policy making around the world, a view then supported by many present. A decision was reached on the establishment of a task force consisting of various experts from the group. The role of this body will be to analyze a matrix policy mix of various approaches such as regulatory methods, renewable energy feed-in tariffs, voluntary target setting, financial incentives, technological development support and consumer orientated information programs, in addition to emissions trading schemes and carbon taxes.
Over all, it may be said that the focus seems to be shifting away from cap and trade emissions trading systems. On the 28th of the same month, the working group’s findings were also presented at an environmental sub committee. The planned task force began work in mid August and the results of this investigation will then be incorporated into work of the main working group at the end of the same month.
Enquires may be addressed to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on: (81) 03 3501-1679)
Approaching Resolution on Conflicting Views Concerning Domestic Cap & Trade System
Members of the Central Environmental Council on Domestic Emissions Trading System Meeting under the Ministry of Environment (MoE) met on July 9th, 2010 in order to discuss key points such as timeframes, target gases, emission quotas, allocation methods and ways of alleviating industry financial burdens. At the hearing, a majority of industry representatives argued that emissions intensive products should be evaluated on a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA) in a manner that does not penalize emissions intensive manufacturing processes that are sometimes necessary for the production of energy efficient goods. In retaliation to this, others replied that it would be impossible to incorporate such an approach into a cap and trade system and that LCA should be dealt with separately outside of the trading framework. Industry members then reacted by arguing that a cap and trade system that failed to take into account LCA should be scrapped. To date, hearings have been conducted three times in total. Discussions will be summarized and presented to the Central Environmental Council on the 30th of August, 2010.
Enquires may be addressed the Environment of Tokyo’s Global Warming and Market Mechanisms Office on: (81) 03-3581-3351.
Tokyo Office: 2nd floor, Hanzomon Woodfield, Kojimachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0083, JAPAN