Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW)/日本からの意見

Will any new strategy to curb global warming be crafted? - A fresh start after COP26
NISHIMURA Mutsuyoshi  / Former Ambassador of Japan to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) negotiations

February 3, 2022
The Guardian, a British newspaper, said of COP26 in Glasgow “All that the negotiators at COP26 could manage was makeshift”. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/nov/16/cop-26-big-business-climate-crisis-neoliberal
George Monbiot, a prominent civilization critic, argued that " The Glasgow Climate Pact... looks like a suicide pact". https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/nov/14/cop26-last-hope-survival-climate-civil-disobedience

Today, not only the young Greta Thunberg, but the whole world has a gloomy feeling that humankind is heading for a catastrophic situation because of global warming, despite the fact that there has been a huge debate around the world for almost 30 years now.

A Hard Struggle with a System Without Teeth

Why is that? In my opinion as a person who was in charge of these negotiations for a period of time, it is due to the serious flaw in the framework itself of the negotiations. The whole story relies on voluntary pledges of NDC: Nationally Determined Contributions. In short, it has no binding power. Today, there is no solution that is guaranteed to keep global warming within safe limits. Thus every country has boasted about its own efforts and denounced the lack of effort of other countries. Poor countries have denounced developed countries, claiming that they had been the victims of the developed countries' massive CO2 emissions in the past.

What exactly has Japan been advocating in this process? It was, after all, related to the attitude of the Japanese business community. To put it simply, their basic attitude was that Japan should not step too far ahead of other countries, especially China. To try to replace existing low-cost, robust and dependable fossil energy systems with totally unreliable renewable energies? That would be tantamount to geopolitical suicide! Such visceral reaction has been at the root of their attitude.

As a result, Japan’s reluctance has won the inglorious Fossil of the Day Award almost every year at the COP, but it has been more important for Japan to be able to avoid 'geopolitical suicide'.

Finally, 'binding power' of science is coming into being.

I hope that the COP will create an enforceable mechanism. However, I know that it is not realistic. So, is there any way to improve this situation? One way is to strengthen the voice of science.

In fact, science has already spoken. In the United Nations negotiations on global warming, ARs (Assessment Reports) by an international group of scientists called the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides scientific guidance, and science has recently blazed a trail.

The trail has been blazed by the 6th assessment report (IPCC-AR6), released in August 2021. According to this report, should the global community succeed henceforth (hence forceではなく) in keeping the global CO2 emissions not exceeding 400GtCO2, then we would be able to limit warming to 1.5degree C. objective for 67% of probability. This means that if we keep on emitting more than 400GtCO2 from here on, tragedy will strike the Earth.

New negotiations should proceed on the basis of science.
The maximum amount of CO2 that humanity can emit while still containing global warming within a certain temperature target is called the 'remaining carbon budget', and scientists around the world have been working on identifying (calculating) this amount for several years. This is the first time that the IPCC has published a specific figure, 400GtCO2. There are many uncertainties in the relationship between CO2 emissions and temperature rises. So this figure is not a definitive conclusion yet.

However, as scientific research evolves in the future, the amount of remaining carbon budget will become more accurate. As a result, we can expect to see the mainstreaming of the opinion "the world must not emit CO2 beyond its carbon budget" in future negotiations. This is absolutely necessary if humankind is to overcome global warming. In short, the 'compulsion of science' must be pushed to centerstage, replacing the unenforceable voluntary pledging system. Japan, other major countries, and the international public should do everything in their power to promote this movement in order to make it a reality for science to save the Earth.

To Strengthen Japan's International Competitiveness in a Decarbonized World

Additionally, there is something important for Japan. That is to develop and implement long-term strategies from now so that it can be fully competitive in the 'new decarbonized world'. Only in this way can Japan avoid geopolitical weakening and achieve clean and sustainable growth. It can also aim to become a giant in the export of new clean technologies.

In fact, positive movements have begun throughout Japan. There are active stirrings for the birth of a national movement towards decarbonized clean growth in a big way. There will be technological innovations in many industrial and consumer sectors. Let us hope that the sense of competition with China pervading the Japanese industry today and the passive response that stems from it will develop into a new vigorous process where Japan can lead the global pack in the common efforts to build a thriving non-carbon planet.

Footnote: About Carbon Neutrality by 2050
Today, there are quite a few countries globally that have made pledges to become 'carbon neutral' by 2050. As trees grow, they absorb and store carbon dioxide emissions that are driving global heating. Carbon neutrality aims to offset carbon emissions from fossil-fuel use by planting trees or protecting forests. In addition to afforestation, some other movements are underway to achieve the same effect by using new technologies. In this sense, 'carbon neutrality by 2050' is almost synonymous with a 'decarbonized world.

Mutsuyoshi Nishimura is former Japanese ambassador to the UNFCCC negotiations.
The English-Speaking Union of Japan

温暖化をくい止める新戦略は生まれるのか?... COP26からの再出発
西村 六善 / 元国連気候変動交渉担当大使

2022年 2月 3日



一体、どうしてか? 一時期、この交渉を担当してきた筆者の私見では、それは交渉の枠組み自体に深刻な欠陥があるからだ。それはこの物語の全ては自己努力の申告制に依っているからだ。要するに強制力がないのだ。今日、温暖化を安全な範囲内に喰いとめる「確実な解決」は無い。だから、どの国も自分の努力を宣伝し他国の努力不足を糾弾した。貧困国は先進国の過去の大規模CO2排出行為の被害者だと先進国を糾弾した。

この過程で、日本は一体何を主張してきたのか? それは結局のところ日本の経済界の姿勢に関係していた。敢えて単純化すると諸外国、特に中国との関係で「日本は前に出過ぎるな」と云う基本姿勢であった。 低コストで強靭な既存の化石燃料エネルギー体制を不安定極まりない再エネ体制に代置する!!!...「それは殆ど地政学上の自殺行為だ...」こういう発想が根底にあった。



筆者はCOPが強制力のある仕組みを生み出すことを望む。しかし、それは現実的ではないことを知っている。では、改善策はないのか? 一つの方法は科学の発言力を強化することだ。


2021年8月に公表された第6次の評価報告書がそれだ。それによれば、今後、世界のCO2総排出量を4000億トン(400GtCO2)に抑えることが出来れば67%の確率で温度上昇を1.5℃に抑えることが出来ると発表した。 要するに今後4000億トン以上を排出したら悲劇が地球を襲うと云うのだ。


一定の温度目標を実現する最大排出量は「残存炭素予算 remaining carbon budget」と呼ばれ、世界の科学者が数年前から数値の特定(算定)に努めて来た。IPCCが4000億トンと云うspecific な数値を公表したのは今回が初めてだ。CO2排出量と温度上昇の関係には不確かな部分が多くある。だからこの数値は未だ決定的な結論ではない。





 今日国際的には「カーボンニュートラル」を2050年までに達成すると云う誓約をしている国が相当数ある。 植林を進め、森林管理を強化するとCO2を吸収し、貯蔵する効果を生む。その分CO2排出の温暖化効果は相殺されてゼロになる。植林以外にも新技術により同じ効果を生もうとする動きが進行中だ。このように「2050年カーボンニュートラル」は「世界の脱炭素化」とほゞ同義である。

一般社団法人 日本英語交流連盟

English Speaking Union of Japan > Japan in Their Own Words (JITOW) > Will any new strategy to curb global warming be crafted? - A fresh start after COP26