December 14, 2009

Japan Fighting Climate Change Through Innovations

Panasonic has unveiled an eco-dream house in Tokyo Bay, Japan.

The "Eco idea house" has energy efficient appliances that save power in every room. It is outfitted with solar panels on the roof, a lithium-ion battery holds the extra electricity, hot water pipes also heat the floors, and insulation saves energy.

"If the person leaves for the kitchen, the lights there can turn on, while the (living room) lights, air-con and television all turn off thanks to sensors that detect human presence, temperature and lighting," Panasonic group president Fumio Ohtsubo said to AFP.

Advances like these are the reason that Panasonic is the greenest company, says a survey by the Nikkei business daily. Japan's corporations are developing more and more environmental friendly technologies as they try to emerge from Japan's post-war recession.

At the UN climate change meeting in Copenhagen, Japan has set an ambitious goal: to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by 25% by 2020.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has made climate change the leading goal for his cabinet, where in the past, Japanese diplomacy has tried to stay neutral.

"This is probably one of the greatest contributions Japan has ever made in the international arena," said Environment Minister Sakihito Ozawa.

Japan has also pledged to donate 9.2 billion dollars by 2012 to help emergent countries fight global warming. Japan is the world's second biggest economy, but only the fifth biggest producer of greenhouse gases.

A lot of Japan's environmental success is because of the need to save energy due to their poor economy.

In the 1970s oil calamity, "each company made efforts to improve energy-saving technologies and contributed to Japan's current economic industrial advantage," Ozawa said to AFP. "We need to accomplish this success story again."

Japan has made a great effort to hold true to the promise made in the Kyoto Protocol: to reduce emissions by 6% from 1990-2012.

Still, Ozawa noted that, after falling behind, Japan had "finally reached its objective," due to the economic recession.

Kimiko Hirata, head of Kiko Nework, an anti-climate change group, criticized government information as false and said emissions have actually increased by 10%.

"Unfortunately, until now the Japanese people have not been trying to meet the Kyoto Protocol commitment," said Koichi Kitazawa, president of Japan Science and Technology Agency, to AFP.

Energy in the high-tech country is being used by households full of TV sets, computers and other electronic gadgets.

Since the 1990s, "we can say that the Japanese individual lifestyle has become Americanized," Kitazawa noted. "Japan should change the lifestyle of its people."


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