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Japanese Prime Minister Calls for 50% Cut in Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 2050

24 May 2007

Nikkei. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe today called for a global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 50% from current levels by 2050.

He made the proposal at The Future of Asia, a conference sponsored by Nikkei Inc.

Abe’s proposal marked the first long-term global warming initiative by the leader of an industrialized nation. With the Kyoto Protocol’s emissions reduction targets set to end in 2012, he seeks to encourage the creation of a successor international framework.

He plans to ask countries attending next month’s Group of Eight summit in Heilingendamm, Germany, for their cooperation in slashing greenhouse gas emissions. There, he plans to lobby to have this included in the G-8’s joint statement.

Success will require new technologies and widespread participation, the Prime Minister said. He urged a flexible and diverse framework that takes into account each country’s circumstances and noted the need to balance environmental protection and economic growth.

May 24, 2007 in Brief | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)

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This is just another attempt by a political person to appear as if they care at all about GW. Year 2050 what a joke. He is only Prime Minister for a few more years and most people who read this will have died of age when we reach 2050 and so would tens of thousands of species that can’t adapt to GW as fast as humans can. We need to end entirely fossil fuel use by 2040. This is very possible if there is a will to do so. They could start today by banning all new construction of power plants that use fossils and introduce a renewable fuels standard for both electricity generation and transportation that would make it illegal to burn any fossils anywhere by 2040. Countries that do not comply should be banned from all foreign trade even if it means war to enforce an effective naval and aviation embargo. This planet is dying rapidly because of GW and it is about time that politicians wake up and take it seriously before it is too late.

Henrik... unless you have some personal connection with the Prime Minister I doubt you have any insight one way or another into whether he cares slightly, passionately, or not at all. Good politicians play the roll in society of building consensus. A bad politician would do things like talking about starting wars over energy use, which of course would greatly harm the environmental efforts by making it's supporters look like zealots not in touch with reality.

If you remember Al Gore's campaign for the US Presidency, you would see a prime example of someone who actually did care deeply about environmental issues, but downplayed it because it was not where the public was at the time.

Don't expect any politician to call for radical changes which don't have at least a reasonable amount of support within their constituency. That is simply how liberal democracies work (thankfully in my opinion). It is incumbent upon environmentalists, all of us, to change public opinion, which will then change public action. Radically shifting public opinion is simply not the job of politicians.

Rhapsodyinglue you are right especially about the role of politicians and I am not right in accusing Abe for being halfhearted when I really don’t know. Sure he plays the game he knows of compromising and doing the achievable at the right moment. My only defense is that I am not a politician and I therefore allow myself to be more provocative and sincere for that case. This is not always a fruitful strategy, but it sometimes stir up some interesting point of views that I learn from such as your comment. Thank you.

Having followed climate change science for a long time, I certainly share your frustration Henrik.

However, over the years, as I've learned about history as well as experiencing more of it myself, I've come to realize that the frustrating, seemingly glacial pace of progress in societies is really the flip side of a very important aspect of properly functioning societies... stability. The idealist might look at history and become disheartened by how slow progress occurs, such as civil rights. But if one thinks about places and time periods where individual charismatic leaders are able to quickly mobilize populations in support of radical new ideas... often these have been the result of unstable situations and result in scary outcomes. The stability of the US political system, which necessitated decades of struggle and incremental progress in civil rights, now also would make it highly unlikely that a charismatic nut case might sweep to power and undue it all in a short time period. The constant bickering and seeming ineffectuality of most democracies actually serves a useful purpose.

However... and this is a big one... the situation we face with global warming may be a problem that is incompatible with the time line of the normal political process. Unfortunately, such a complex non-linear system as the Earth's climate is very difficult to analyze with much certainty. We may not know we've crossed a tipping point until after the fact. In fact we might already have. Whether reducing emissions 50% by 2050 or 100% by 2040, or 100% by 2020, the science is simply not good enough yet to know what would be required to avoid the most dire of the possibilities.

In my opinion the best we can do is try to educate those we know that the lack of certainty in the science is a reason for swifter action not a reason for inaction, and that creative and intelligent action can enhance the world for everyone rather than being a burden on economies.

It is good that you bring my attention to this stability, compromising issue I didn’t fully realise how important it was. In addition to your suggesting about educating those we know I hope other means of persuasion will also help to bring change. The most important will be the raising price of crude oil that improves the economics of all the green alternatives. Just hope that there will be enough political consensuses to bar the use of the more polluting alternatives such as coal to liquids and oil sands etc.

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