07 September 2009

Do You Believe in Magic?

Apparently Yukio Hatoyama, Japan’s soon-to-be prime minister, believes in magic. The FT reports today that Japan now seeks to reduce emissions by 25% from 1990 levels, which is equivalent to a 37% reduction from 2005 levels. The previous government promised a 15% reduction from 2005 levels. From the FT:
Yukio Hatoyama, Japan’s incoming prime minister, has vowed to stick by his Democratic party's manifesto goal of slashing greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and has promised to draw up a “Hatoyama Initiative” laying out how rich nations should support the developing countries build low-carbon economies.

In an election manifesto issued before the DPJ toppled the long-ruling Liberal Democratic party in last month's historic general election, the decade-old opposition said it would aim to cut emissions of the gases blamed for global warming by 25 per cent from 1990 levels by 2020.

The goal is much more ambitious than the interim target of an 8 per cent reduction in emissions from 1990 levels announced in June by Taro Aso, Japan’s LDP prime minister.

It is also opposed by Japanese business groups, which say the oil-import-dependent nation is already highly energy efficient and that further emission reduction gains will be hard to come by and could further undermine an economy already suffering chronic low growth.

But the DPJ has added on a caveat that wasn't part of their campaign promises:

The incoming prime minister stressed that the goal would be contingent on other nations making strong commitments to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

He said industrialised nations would offer “financial and technological support” to developing countries and that as soon as he took office he would “begin studying” concrete steps to be brought together as the Hatoyama Initiative for international co-operation on the issues.

The FT explains the obvious:
The DPJ, which has given little detail of how it will curb greenhouse gas emissions, is also likely to face substantial practical and political obstacles in putting policies in place to meet its carbon-cutting goal.
I have written a paper (that is now awaiting re-review following a revision) on Japanese emissions reduction targets. In it I argue that the LDP's Mamizu climate policy was likely too ambitious. Clearly, the “Hatoyama Initiative” is yet another "magical solution."

To get on a list to receive the final version of this paper once (hopefully soon) accepted just drop me an email.

Pielke, Jr., R.A., (in review). Mamizu Climate Policy: An Evaluation of Japanese Carbon Emissions Reduction Targets, Environmental Research Letters.