Japan counts the cost of going green


(eTN) – The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has forecast Japanese households and businesses will face a bill of US$500 billion over the next decade if it wants to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 11 percent, according to latest reports.

Still, it would only represent a 4 percent reduction from 2012 levels which Japan has committed itself. Under the Kyoto global warming pact, Japan has agreed to cut greenhouse emissions by 6 percent under 1990 levels by 2012.

The forecast estimates Japanese households will spend an equivalent of US$258 billion towards the cost of installing solar panels and buying energy efficient appliances and automobiles. Presently an average Japanese households spends about US$400 annually.

Japanese industry, meanwhile, will face a bill of $269 billion towards the cost of switching to more energy efficient technology, including the cost of switching to “clean -burning” cars and building nuclear plants.

“Japan will be spending a lot of money for so little gain,” said a commentator on the financial commitments.

However, under the proposal to introduce “carbon credits” on the open market, Japan can resort to “buy” such credits to solve part of its carbon emission difficulties.

Japan has been at the forefront of a global goal of cutting emissions by 50 percent by the year 2050, on expiry of the present Kyoto Protocol.

“Climate change is a threat to humanity as a whole,” said United Nations Development Program (UNDP) administrator Kemal Dervis. “It is the poor who face the immediate and most severe human costs.”

In its report “Fighting Climate Change: Human Solidarity in a Divided World,” UNDP warned the impact of climate change could bring “unprecedented” reversals in poverty reduction, nutrition, health and education. “The world’s poorest countries face malnutrition, water scarcity, ecological threats and the loss of livelihoods.”

The Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012, was negotiated in Japan in 1997, committing 36 industrialized nations to cut greenhouse emissions on average of 5 percent below 1990 levels between 2008-2012