U.S. must assume responsibility as major emitter of greenhouse gases

The Yomiuri ShimbunMeasures to combat global warming require thinking aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions of the entire world.

To effectively tackle this task, international cooperation is essential.

It is thus worrisome, when viewed from this perspective, that U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to comprehensively review the country’s global warming measures.

Trump has instructed a review of climate policies advocated by the previous administration of President Barack Obama, including the Clean Power Plan, which curbs carbon dioxide emissions at power plants. These actions are in line with one of his campaign pledges during the presidential election: the revival of the U.S. coal industry.

The Paris Agreement on climate change, a new framework for global warming measures, came into force in November. The United States had come up with a plan to cut emissions by 26-28 percent by 2025 from levels for 2005. With the U.S. policy shift, however, the rolling-back of measures to fight global warming will be inevitable.

Methods of generating power have been shifting toward cleaner means worldwide, including natural gas, photovoltaic power and wind power.

Even in the United States, the percentage of power generation using natural gas is increasing. This means of power generation emits relatively less CO2, and its price has been plummeting. As a consequence, the United States has already achieved nearly half the targeted cuts in emissions. It can only be said that the Trump administration has failed to acknowledge the realities of the current situation.

Trump is skeptical about global warming, having even called it a “hoax.”

Swiftly align ministry plans

The scientific conclusion reached over many years of observations and research has been that global warming has been caused by human activities. The United States is the world’s second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, next to China, but its per capita emissions are the largest globally. The country must not forget that it bears a great responsibility for the curbing of greenhouse gas emissions.

The Paris Agreement, adopted with the leadership of both the United States and China, is an epochal framework with all the emitting countries taking part. While upholding this framework, the international community needs to approach the United States and urge the country to continue making efforts to reduce emissions.

Some of the possible impact that would result from the executive order remains to be clarified. Seventeen states have filed lawsuits challenging Trump’s executive order to review climate policies, calling for a retraction of part of the Trump administration’s rollbacks with regards to the environment.

Each and every country is required to take a stance on the steady promotion of necessary measures in cooperation with one another, while avoiding being led astray by the U.S. moves.

In Japan, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and the Environment Ministry have each compiled a draft plan toward realizing a low-carbon society in 2050.

The industry ministry emphasizes such initiatives as the development of energy-saving technologies and the promotion of these technologies overseas, so as to achieve both emission cuts and economic growth. The Environment Ministry attaches importance to the imposition of taxes on CO2 emissions and other measures. To cut emissions for the world as a whole, utilization of nuclear power generation is also important.

Among the major Group of Seven countries, Japan lags behind in deciding on a low-carbon society plan. The government should expedite its efforts to align the plans of both ministries.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, April 17, 2017)Speech


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