Rhein on Energy and Climate

The newly elected Japanese candidate for prime minister has demonstrated political courage by raising Japanese climate targets for 2020. In his capacity as leader of the Democratic Party, he has indicated that Japan should reduce its C02 emissions by 25 percent over 1990 rather than only 8 percent, as proposed by his predecessor in government.

This is a positive signal. It indicates that the new leadership is much more concerned about climate change than about the short-term interests of Japanese industry for low energy costs and competitiveness.

Of course, this intention has to be converted into a coherent government programme and approved by the Diet. That will take time; and as developments in the USA show ambitious goals of political leaders, whether Obama, Hatoyama or Merkel, often meet with staunch resistance in the process of delivery.

Japan matters as a factor behind climate change. It is one of the top emitters of green house gases, ranging after China, USA, EU and Russia.

It possesses the technological and financial means to become a leading player in clean energy technologies, from solar to nuclear power and energy efficiency. Its example will have an impact on China and Korea, both major emitter countries that will have to undertake huge efforts to contain their emissions.

Japan should therefore be expected to play a constructive role in the forthcoming climate talks and to plead for an efficient and fair international framework, in which all leading emitter countries would have to participate.

The EU and Japan should join hands and combine their efforts to obtain an effective deal in Copenhagen.

Brussels, 09.09 2009 Eberhard Rhein

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