At the GreenXchange conference last Tuesday, Tadashi Maeda, the Director General of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), remarked, “Japan is the world leader in efficient use of resources, even though we import most of it.” How do they do it?
Japan doesn’t implement a carbon tax or have a carbon market. They rely entirely on voluntary agreements with local governments, markets, and civil society to reduce carbon output.
As a country that signed on to the original Kyoto agreement to reduce emissions to 6% below 1990 levels by 2012, Japan has made steady progress towards their goal by requesting industry leaders to voluntary implement carbon-cutting strategies. Every year the government tracks emissions levels of each sector and subsequently assesses how much more must be cut to meet the nation’s goals. The majority of companies have complied using standard corporate carbon reduction strategies. Many have even been creative in their approach, allowing employees to forego their suits in summer so that buildings burn less energy through air conditioning.
One can only imagine if such an approach could work here in the U.S. As it is, several U.S. companies are already minimizing carbon emission output on a voluntary basis. If the U.S. Administration is reluctant to set a firm mandate on reductions, implement a carbon tax, or create a carbon market, then why not propose widespread voluntary measures? The E.P.A. Climate Leaders Program has demonstrated that Fortune 500 companies are ready and willing to set corporate reduction goals. Instead of being the stubborn child at the Bali table, our administration could at least agree to support voluntary reductions.