Thursday, December 06, 2012

Japan backpedals on greenhouse emissions pledge

Some chickens came home to roost yesterday when an Environment Ministry official was forced to admit that Japan's 2009 pledge to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 25% would be difficult to fulfill.

"Japan is discussing how to achieve its pledge of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2020, including the possibility of revising it," said ministry official Shuichiro Niihara on Wednesday

As well as being an implicit admission of failure, the statement also includes the interesting claim that you can 'achieve' a pledge simply by changing it and fulfilling the new pledge.

The official did state that the goal of cutting emissions by 6 percent by 2012 was likely to be reached. This would be great if true but of course it is impossible; I would dearly like to see the numbers which show that Japan can produce less greenhouse gas than in 1990 while closing down its entire nuclear industry in 2012.

Unfortunately the confidence of the ministry official has little to do with emission cutting and much more to do with carbon trading. In the carbon trading system, Japanese companies, if unable to cut emmissions enough on their own can buy the rights to pollute from other countries that have not reached their own 'emissions cap'. The thinking behind such systems is that if a price is put on carbon emission, the free market will start to operate on carbon, and those who can reduce carbon emissions most cheaply will do so, thus achieving the pollution reduction at the lowest cost to society.

The end result of all this is that Japan can claim it has reduced emissions by keeping under its emissions cap. The fact that they have merely bought another country's right to pollute is usually and conveniently ignored. Whatever carbon trading schemes are capable or not capable of doing, Japan hasn't actually reduced its carbon emissions.

As I observed in my previous post, world carbon emissions, rather than being affected by the Kyoto Protocol or other international agreements, are actually increasing every year. Without widespread adoption of nuclear power this trend will continue and the world will suffer.

No comments: