For decades, Japan has been one of the leading economies in the world. Moreover, the effectiveness of its economic interventions was well-balanced with the national and individual striving to promote “green” attitudes toward all aspects of its economic and social performance. In distinction from other global economies, Japan always believed that controlling carbon emissions and reducing the impact of global warming was within the government’s capacity. The volumes of its carbon emissions were much lower than those in other countries.
Nevertheless, and given the expanding economic crisis, it is very probable that Japan will fail to meet its CO2 emission limits, and the effectiveness of its carbon emission policies will depend on the way the country works to reduce the negative impacts of the world economic crisis on its “green” ideas.
The Japanese economy is well known for the miraculous growth is has been experiencing since the end of the World War II and up to the middle of the 1990s.
Traditionally, Japan used planned approaches to the development of technology of science, implemented strong work culture and established mutually beneficial relationships between the national government and the industrial sector. Now, the Japanese economy is dominated by the service sector, which accounts for 73% of the national GDP (Economy Watch, 2008).
The agricultural sector comprises no more than 2 percent of the national economic development. In 2007, its GDP per capita was $33,600, with the average growth rates not exceeding 3% (Economy Watch, 2008). Since the end of the 1990s, however, Japan has found itself under the growing deflation pressures; budget deficit has become the essential component of the national economic performance, and when in 2008 consumer prices suddenly went up, Japan appeared unprepared to tackling with the complexities of the new economic crisis.
It should also be noted, that since the middle of the 1990s the level of carbon emissions in Japan has grown 40 percent (Brand, 2009), and Japan was persistently trying to prove that “a viable society is one where the amount of carbon dioxide we emit is within the range that the earth can naturally absorb, at the same time we are leading even more pleasant lives” (Japan for Sustainability, 2008). Now, as the Japanese economy is shrinking, the country may face a whole set of difficulties on its way to better ecological living.
In the light of the growing economic pressures, and given the rapidly decreasing volumes of industrial production which fell 38% in February (The Economist, 2009), Japan is likely to remain among the leading emitters of CO2 in the world. Japanese ecology professionals recognize the difficulties they face trying to predict the impact which manufacturing sector will produce on carbon emissions in the coming fiscal year. “This makes it hard to make predictions despite a fall in the sector’s production due to an economic slowdown” (Maeda, 2009).
Japanese steel manufacturers are still listed among the top environmental polluters with 63.1 million metric tons of CO2 emissions a year (Maeda, 2009). Compared to 2008, the Japanese utility sector has increased the amount of CO2 emissions by 12 percent. Individual Japanese manufacturers are not legally bound to follow Kyoto protocol requirements, and when it comes to ecology, their official obligations are limited to reporting the amount of carbon emissions on annual basis (Maeda, 2009).
As a result, where Japan seeks to limit the amount of CO2 emissions into atmosphere, its government interventions appear at least ineffective. Moreover, bearing in mind the need to reduce the government spending and the volume of state ecological programs, Japan will hardly be able to pursue the principles of ecological conduct in the coming decade. As a result, developing and implementing a new set of economic interventions and legal criteria will help individual manufacturers and consumers develop a sense of responsibility regarding the volumes of CO2 they produce in the process of their daily activity. These ecological and legal criteria will also work to improve the cost-effectiveness of all carbon emission policies in Japan.
Brand, M. (2009). Japan struggles to meet its CO2 emissions limits. NPR. Retrieved April 22,
2009 from http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=15321013
Economy Watch. (2008). Japan economic profile. Economywatch.com. Retrieved April 22,
2009 from http://www.economywatch.com/world_economy/japan/
Japan for Sustainability. (2008). Vision for a low-carbon Japan: Cutting carbon emissions 60-
80 percent by 2050. JFS Newsletter. Retrieved April 22, 2009 from http://www.japanfs.org/en/mailmagazine/newsletter/pages/027852.html
Maeda, R. (2009). Japan’s CO2 emissions may rise despite economic slump. Reuters UK.
Retrieved April 22, 2009 from http://uk.reuters.com/article/behindTheScenes/idUKTRE53245V20090403?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0
The Economist. (2009). The incredible shrinking economy. The Economist. Retrieved April
22, 2009 from http://www.economist.com/research/articlesBySubject/displaystory.cfm?subjectid=348969&story_id=13415153