energy issues, ministry of the environment
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The work of the Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in the Government of Japan are examined here

The Ministry of the Environment (MOE) Government of Japan is headed up by Yoshiaki Harada, Minister of the Environment. (1) The Ministry is responsible for global environmental conservation, nature conservation and pollution control. (2)

Greenhouse gases

When it comes to the Ministry’s policy on the global environment, one aspect of this concerns World Data Centre for Greenhouse Gases (WDCGG; a World Data Centre (WDC) of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) which has been in operation since 1990 by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA). As the only WDC that specialises in greenhouse gases, it archives, collects and distributes data gases, such as CO2, CH4, CFCs and N2O and other related gases in the atmosphere.

In March 2019, WDCGG commenced the online provision of CO2 observation data*from Japan’s Ibuki Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite (GOSAT) for April 2009 (3), in addition to existing surface-based data, more of which the website goes on to explain.

“Integration of remote sensing satellite data and existing surface-based in situ data is expected to promote the wider use of this information and facilitate long-term monitoring of global distribution and sub-continental CO2 emission/absorption estimates.

“WDCGG plans to continue improving its services for the collection, archiving and distribution of satellite data worldwide, including for GOSAT-2 (the successor to GOSAT), to support the monitoring of climate change and assist policy making, thereby helping to reduce environmental risks to society.” (4)

Climate change

The Ministry of the Environment notes that as climate change impacts have manifested in parts world, the Summary for Policy-Makers of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)’s 1.5℃ special report issued in October 2018 says that: “Global warming is likely to reach 1.5℃ between 2030 and 2052 if it continues to increase at the current rate.”

In addition, at the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 24) held in December 2018, the Paris Agreement implementation guidelines were adopted and commonly applied to all Member States and highlight the importance of countermeasures against the further increase of global warming. The website of MOE develops this point further when promoting hold their International CCUS Symposium for Low-Carbon Society’ that took place in February 2019.

“However, in order to realise a decarbonising society, not only the extension of conventional efforts but also new innovation are necessary. In addition, such innovations are now considered to be a source of growth.

“Under such situations, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) has proceeded with technical demonstration projects of CCUS (Carbon dioxide Capture, Utilisation and Storage) which can greatly reduce CO2 from large-scale emission sources to the atmosphere.” (5)

The plastic waste issue

Continuing the environmental theme of this article, we find out on the website of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) that they have come up with the ‘Roadmap for Popularizing Development and Introduction of Marine Biodegradable Plastics’, to deal with the issue of plastic waste.

This compiles the expected major challenges in and measures for encouraging businesses to popularise the introduction of marine biodegradable plastics. We read more about this important aspect of energy policy on METI’s website, in that is united the efforts of the public and private sectors by focussing on technical, economic and institutional challenges in giving direction for developing new materials and technologies that are biodegradable in the marine environment. (6)

By way of background information, it is worth noting here that Mr Hiroshige Seko is Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry. (7) The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) focuses on a wide range of policies, including economic & industrial policy, external economic policy and energy and environment policy. (8) Let’s look at a further examples of this now.

Electricity supply and demand

One interesting policy area METI highlights concern the results of the electricity supply and demand for the winter of FY2018, plus data on the outlook and measures for electricity supply and demand for the summer of FY2019.

The Electricity and Gas Basic Policy Subcommittee, under the Electricity and Gas Industry Committee of the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy, compiled the data. More of this is explained by METI, which includes a call for citizens to cooperate in energy-saving efforts and the study of supply and demand of electricity during the summer and winter.

“As for the electricity supply and demand for the summer of FY2019, a reserve margin of 3%, which is the minimum ratio required for a supply of electricity across Japan, is expected to be secured.

“Aiming to provide full-fledged electricity supply-demand measures to address Japan’s situations surrounding electricity after the Great East Japan Earthquake. Japan has been studying supply and demand of electricity in summer and winter, the seasons when electricity demand increases across Japan.”

One of the key points here is that the subcommittee decided not to request the cooperation of the public in energy conservation during summer 2019. Having said that, METI still wishes the public to cooperate in energy-saving efforts and conservation measures to help the environment at a reasonable pace, as has been the case in Japan for a number of years now. (9)




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