2016/07/09 Eco Forum Global 2016 貴陽での講演 "Environmental Protection, Economic Growth and Innovation"
Environmental Protection, Economic Growth and Innovation
At the Eco Forum Global World Leader Sub-forum
July 9, 2016 Guiyang, China
Yoriko Kawaguchi, Professor, Meiji Institute for Global Affairs
(Former Minister of
the Environment and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan)
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Thank you very much for the invitation to participate in the Eco Forum Global and for the opportunity to visit this beautiful woody city for the first time.
Guiyang, in my mind, is a symbol of Japan-China cooperation in environmental protection. Back in 1997, then Prime Minister Hashimoto and Premier Li Peng agreed on the cooperative framework called “Japan-China Environment Cooperation toward the 21st Century” that included, as one of the two main pillars, environmental quality improvement of cities. Guiyang, along with Dalian and Chongqing was chosen as a model city and Japan-China joint work resulted in more than 80% reduction of SO2 among other improvements.
All of us recall the picture of the breathtakingly beautiful blue earth taken by Astronaut William Anders in 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission. People also gasped at the thinness of the atmosphere surrounding the earth, only about 500 km, without which the earth is inhabitable.
The Environment is a precious and scarce resource that is exposed to many dangers. Climate change is a real threat causing huge storms that take precious lives and threatens millions more who live in coastal areas.
Desertification has displaced many people from their farms and home villages and has already led to wars such as that now happening in Syria. Biodiversity is decreasing. The sea is acidifying and is contaminated with chemical substances and litters. The air and water have become contaminated, causing acid rain and harming human health. I could go on listing many environmental problems. All the countries and all the peoples on earth must work to protect our precious environment. We must make the 21st century a century of environmental protection.
In this connection, I respect China for making serious efforts to protect the environment, saying “ecology first,” as expressed in “the 13th Five Year Plan for Economic and Social Development.”
Unfortunately, in many countries, voices for environmental protection often encounter negative reactions and resistance, saying it would jeopardize economic growth. These people worry that environment protection requires resources and money that could be channeled into economic growth. Is this a warranted concern?
My view is that economic growth and environmental protection are more than compatible. In fact, economic growth and environmental protection are indispensable and integral parts of sustainable development. That is, desirable economic activities cannot take place where the environment is eroded. Also, environment protection can be a source of economic growth. Similarly, without economic growth, which generates resources and technology necessary for environmental protection, the environment suffers.
It is said that about 10 thousand people lived on the Easter Island in the 16th century. But people cut trees for cooking, building houses, for transporting moais without replanting, causing losses of futile soil to the sea, and eventually, resulting in food scarcity and wars.
The Japanese people enjoy good environment quality at present. But, Japan suffered from severe air and water pollution problems triggered by rapid economic growth in the 60’s and early 70’s. To combat the problems, Japan introduced regulatory and incentive policies on the part of both national and local governments setting standards for emissions and discharges for each plant and industrial region, making them more rigorous as years went on. R&D for pollution prevention technologies were implemented by both the government and private sectors and the investments in equipment and facilities embodying the resulting state-of-the-art technologies were made. In fact, the annual growth rate of Japan’s overall pollution prevention-related investments ranged between 30 to 70 % from 1966 through 1971. Japan’s annual economic growth rate grew more than 12% p.a. in the second half of the 1960’s while spending large resources for environment protection, showing that economic growth and environment protection go hand in hand or can be decoupled.
There are important keys to this decoupling. One is innovation in technology, its deployment and in policy making. Going back to the story of Japan’s past experience of conquering air pollution, especially caused by Sox, flue-gas desulfurization technology was the only answer. The Japanese government commissioned work to a group of companies to develop technology with a target of more than 90% desulfurization. This policy measure resulted in about 50 different desulfurization technologies. Innovation in technology and policy makes what is impossible possible.
Another important key is to foster the minds of the people who understand the critical importance of environment protection, and can work and act in his or her own way to protect the environment. Education at all school levels as well as adult education is important to give knowledge and foster the mind-set. Also, professional education and human capital development capable of R&D and deployment work is crucial.
In my view, our current greatest environmental threat is climate change. We know the target of below 2 degrees Celcius above the preindustrial level, as we agreed in Paris last year, is a very ambitious goal. The announcement made by the UN reveals that the aggregation of all the commitments or Intended Nationally Determined Contributions of the parties to the Framework Convention on Climate Change does not get us there at the present time. In fact, we are far away from it. However, we must achieve our current targets by all means while developing the necessary new technologies to make the 2 degrees Celcius goal attainable. I believe that our generations’ mission is to pass on to the future generations the earth as we inherited it from our ancestors.
How do we do this? I think the crucial key is innovation in technology. Many technologies are at the R&D stage such as advanced solar energy, hydrogen, fusion, autonomous drive, fuel cell, CSS and so on. The private sector, academia, and governments of each country need to work on their own as well as to cooperate with others to work on these technologies and deploy them. They also need to develop additional innovative technologies in order to further reduce emissions.
In this connection, I am glad that 20 countries, including Japan and China agreed on the “Mission Innovation” Initiative to double the official clean energy R&D in 5 years. I understand clean energy R&D expenditures of these countries comprise about 80% of the world’s clean energy R&D. I am also pleased that the international business community agreed to form a “Clean Energy Coalition” to support clean energy technologies from R&D labs to deployment, creating a fund and generating 2 billion dollars a year.
Assistance to developing countries is also imperative. Developing countries will be growing. As they industrialize and as their income rises, they use more energy and emit more greenhouse gases. Financial assistance, transfers of technologies and our experiences on policies taken, and human capital development assistance are all very necessary.
After the Industrial Revolution, mankind has prospered by burning fossil fuels as much as possible. Looking back on human history, command of coal and oil moved international politics, caused frictions and determined the prosperity of nations. Our goal of creating low-carbon societies as required by the Paris Agreement forces us to shift our paradigm completely. The implications of a low-carbon society are profound.
President Xi said in his address at the UN last September that “we should reconcile industrial development with nature and pursue harmony between man and nature to achieve sustainable development throughout the world and the all-round development of humanity.” He went on to say, “To build a sound ecology is vital for mankind’s future. All members of the international community should work together to build a sound global eco-environment.”
I couldn’t agree more and this is why we are here.
2016/05/14 本田財団・ウズベキスタン シンポジウム講演 "Critical Keys to Reduce Pollution: A Message from Japan"
Critical Keys to Reduce Pollution: A Message from Japan
Professor, Meiji Institute for International Affairs, Meiji University
May 14, 2016 for the Uzbek-Japan Symposium on Eco-technologies
Japan experienced severe air pollution problems triggered by rapid economic growth in the mid1950’s to mid1970’s. During that time, especially in the industrial regions, health problems such as asthma increased to a considerable degree, and often, people took the problems to court. It was only after we realized that our environment and the people were suffering from the consequences, that we introduced a variety of measures. Japan needed to tackle them very urgently.
What did Japan do? First, the following key elements were identified as crucial to combat pollution, namely, technology development and deployment, regulatory and incentive policies on the part of both national and local governments, and human resources development. Second, Japan introduced them to the society or economy more or less concurrently to ensure effective outcome. Without technologies to reduce or remove contaminating emissions, air could not be cleaner. For the technologies to become available and deployed, incentives for R&D and deployment were needed. Regulatory policies had to be there, as well as human capital development for these new challenges. Third, business, national government, local governments, academia, consumers and NGOs needed to cooperate as all the parties concerned had a role to play.
First, let me talk about technology. People in the industrialized region were demanding that the air be cleaner. State-of-the-art pollution prevention technology was the only answer. Flue-gas desulfurization technology and equipment were imperative for achieving emission standards set out by the law. R&D began in a major way in the first half of 1960’s for use in the thermal power plants. As speed was the key word, they just couldn’t be left to the private sector alone. In 1966, Agency of Industrial Science and Technology, a branch of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, which is now called the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, commissioned work to a group of companies to develop equipment enabling 90% desulfurization. It is said that this policy measure resulted in about 50 desulfurization technologies. Thermal power plants introduced desulfurization equipment especially after total pollutant load controls were introduced in 1974. Thus, you can see that regulation, incentives and government leadership together played a role in the speedy R&D and deployment.
Second, let me focus on financial incentives to business, as they were the major players in pollution prevention, and was placed in a position to incur the new cost by regulation and by social pressure, which they had not shouldered before. In other words, business was now paying the cost, which environment and human health were incurring previously. To alleviate the new burden to business and ensure the implementation by them of necessary measures, the government came in. The government established Pollution Prevention Agency in 1965 through which the government’s provided low-interest financial assistance to business to facilitate their investment in pollution prevention. Other government sponsored financial institutions such as Japan Development Bank and Japan Finance Corporation for Small Business made similar loans. Reflecting these measures, annual growth of Japan’s overall pollution prevention-related investment ranged between 30 to 70% in the 1966 through 1971.
Third, let me talk about regulatory policies. The first law to combat air pollution, “Smoke and Soot Regulation Law”, was introduced in 1962. However, towards the middle of 1960’s, it became evident that it was not enough at all. Japan needed a comprehensive and consistent legal framework stipulating definition of pollution, responsibility of emitters, responsibility sharing among business, national government and local governments, and schemes to combat pollution. Also, it was felt that preventive approaches, rather than ad-hoc corrective approaches, should be taken. This led to the Basic Environmental Pollution Control Law in 1967which was revised many times to respond to new needs.
The law designated air contamination, water contamination, soil contamination, noise and three other pollution problems as public nuisance or environmental pollution. The government was required to set environmental standards at a level to assure sound human health. The law gave the government regulatory authority and introduced polluter pays principle. It stipulated the role of government regarding financial and fiscal assistance, compensation to the pollution victims and pollution prevention technology.
In 1968, Air Pollution Control Law was introduced to implement concrete measures. Emission standards for many polluting substances were set in 1969. Emission regulations to achieve the set standards were introduced starting in 1968, first by chimney, and in 1974, by plant and by area. As a result of various measures, by 1975, Japan was able to meet the standard set for SO2. In 1971, Environment Protection Agency was established to plan and implement anti-pollution measures. It was elevated to the Ministry level in 2001.
Fourth is human capital development. Business need workers who can operate pollution related equipment and facilities. To foster personnel capable of handling these, the government passed a law in 1971 requiring plants of certain categories to place managers in charge of pollution control. The managers need to be licensed by the government and training courses have been provided.
Fifth, local governments played an important role. Quite often they preceded the national government. An example was the introduction of total pollutants lord control by Mie prefecture 1972, two years prior to the national government.
As we saw so far, in Japan, key elements such as regulatory policies, incentive policies, technology development and dissemination, personnel development were placed from mid1960’s through early 1970’s more or less concurrently. In fact, 1970 was an epoch making year. Japan’s Diet, or national assembly, passed as many as 14 pollution control related laws, both new and revised, in that year. The Diet session that year is known as “Pollution Control Diet.”
Before I close, I want to touch on one very important aspect of pollution control. That is taking care of the victims. As I mentioned, many victims took their cases to the court. The court verdicts in most cases were that correlation existed between emissions and human health problems on the basis of large-scale epidemiological study, and business should have taken state-of-the- art measures, unconstrained by the economic costs to take care of the residents. However, judicial processes normally took time and not suited for prompt compensation to the patients. Therefore, the government passed laws in 1972 and 1973 to introduce no-fault liability and set-up a mechanism where by a committee composed of medical and other specialists identified the victim and paid compensation to the identified patients. The funding came from industries emitting pollutants including automobile producers and the government. By 1988, patients identified as pollution victims rose to 100,000 people. The mechanism still exists and patients are being paid.
Japan’s success story that I explained is only one part of our efforts to tackle diverse environmental challenges. We have miles to go regarding climate change and the preservation of bio-diversity.
Whatever the type of environmental challenge is, approaches for the solution is basically the same. As I said earlier, key elements are: technology R&D and deployment, regulations and incentive policies on the part of both national and local governments, and human resources development. These need to come to the economy more or less concurrently and, all the parties concerned need to cooperate.
There is one additional factor I would like to mention this time. Now that we are in the 21st century with all the international cooperation frameworks, I would like to emphasize that international cooperation does play an extremely important role.
Thank you very much for your attention.
 Japan’s average real GDP growth rate: 8.8% for the second half of 1950’s, 9.3% for the first half and 12.4% for the second half of 1960’s. During the 10 year period of 1955 through 1965, energy consumption grew 3 times from 51million tons oil equivalent to 146mil。lion toe with the largest component changing from coal to oil. Committee on Japan’s Experience in the Battle against Air Pollution. Japan’s Experience in the Battle against Air Pollution. Tokyo: The Pollution-Related Health Damage Compensation and Prevention Association, 1997. The symptoms later became known as Yokkaichi Asthma.
 Yokkaichi City produced about 1/4 of Japan’s petrochemical products around 1960. As early as 1961, residents began to complain the asthmatic symptoms and the number rose sharply. The symptoms later became known as Yokkaichi Asthma. Minamata disease surfaced in late 1950’s.
 Air contamination in major industrial areas, such as Northern Kyushu, Osaka area, and Tokyo area, became visibly bad. In northern Kyushu, mothers started to protest air pollution as early as 1950. This Law designated certain areas and obligated within to observe emission standards and acquire an approval to establish certain facilities. It was subsumed in the Air Pollution Law in 1968.
 It was merged with the Nature Conservation Law and transformed to the Basic Environment Law in 1993 to face global environmental challenges such as climate change.
 It regulated polluting substances emitted from plants, including smoke and soot and also automobile emissions. Chimney based regulation was by regulating per hour emission of smoke and dust from chimneys. In 1974, the national government introduced total pollutant load controls to set limitations per plant and per area where plants are concentrated.
It also stipulated for the liability of emitters without faults. This law has been revised many times with the latest revision in 2004 to include VOCs(揮発性有機化合物).
 The government also took steps to import low-sulfur crude oil, desulfurize heavy oil, and encourage use of natural gas in 1960’s. It also regulated the use of leaded gasoline.
 One could say that this is a Japanese version of “polluters pay principle”. The original concept as presented by the OECD in 1972 was for the business to internalize the pollution prevention cost and to discourage government subsidies to achieve efficient allocation of resources. However, in Japan’s case, because environmental damage was so severe, it was agreed that polluters take a responsibility for the damaged environment and health.