Monday, July 07, 2008

What he said.

I have always thought---and tried unsuccessfully to put into words---that Japan's reputation as a leader in the fight to reduce global warming or in about any other environmental issue was/is highly exaggerated. In fact, in many areas of environmental conservation/preservation, Japan is anything but a leader or role model.

Andrew DeWit has published a piece on Japan Focus: The G8 Mirage: Toyako, Japan's Potemkin Village, and the Environment which I wish that I could have written. He starts out by listing some of the often overly enthusiastic foreign and domestic media reports on Japan's environmental record especially as far as energy conservation and CO2 reduction is concerned. He then goes over some of the statements of Japanese politicians and bureaucrats who naturally want to add to the idea of Japan's special---dare we say unique?---role in this fight. Then he notes:

The Japanese elite enjoy the brand-name benefits conferred by “Kyoto,” but have made little attempt to meet its explicit targets or achieve its proposed trajectory towards more stringent and comprehensive mechanisms.

(I recall that Japan did not ratify the Kyoto Protocol until after Bush had walked away from the agreement. This was in 2000 or 2001, 3-4 years after Kyoto. Yea, very enthusiastic.)

He then shows that although Japan is "at best on par with" the EU, it is not the global leader in the energy efficiency and environmental fields. He uses data from the
German Watch’s Climate Change Performance Index (compares emissions trends and climate protection) which showed that Japan is dropped from 39th place in 2007 to 42nd in 2008 while China (of all places) improved from 44th to 40th in the same period.

One of his more interesting points is that while Germany's (and others) economy was growing faster than Japan's from 1997-2007, its energy consumption was falling while Japan's was increasing. During this period Germany's population was growing while Japan's was---and still is---falling.

Dewit then explores other areas of energy use in Japan, and ends with a look at what two Japanese environmental experts
Iida Tetsunari of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, and Kameyama Yoshiko of the University of Tokyo-based National Institute for Environmental Studies have to say about the myths and distortions of the Japanese leadership. Their research shows that Japan actually slipping behind and will not even be able to meet the Kyoto target of a 6% energy cut this year.

There is much, much more information in that article. It is the kind of research and writing that is needed concerning Japan, but is rarely ever found in the mainstream media. They are too busy reporting on fantasy Japan.

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