Global Environment

ECO-LIFE PLEDGE: STRATEGIES AND ACTIONS FOR MITIGATING GLOBAL WARMING

The Environment Agency is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Working in concert with other Japanese government agencies to support the Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Agency played a leading role in encouraging Japanese citizens to participate in the Conference of the Parties (COP3), popularly known as the Kyoto Conference.

In recent years, Japan's energy use in the household and transportation sectors has increased, while net industry energy use is essentially unchanged from 1973 levels despite significant growth in Japan's economy. The Agency's primary strategy to combat global warming, therefore, focuses on developing an environmentally-friendly lifestyle, using well-funded citizen education campaigns and green-purchasing programs.

In preparation for the Kyoto Conference, the Agency utilized the heightened press coverage to launch several climate change-related public awareness campaigns. Buoyed by strong citizen interest, the Agency, together with local governments, universities, and private research organizations, jointly sponsored regional seminars aimed at educating the public about issues related to global warming. The seminars were well attended.

Citizens in Japan want to be part of a global solution. One of the high-profile Agency-sponsored public-awareness programs leading up to the Kyoto Conference was a national pledge campaign known as "Eco-Life." The campaign engaged one million people to dedicate themselves to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by changing daily lifestyle decisions.

In a related pilot project directed by the Agency, the local government and citizens in the Setagaya Ward of Tokyo participated in demonstrating the relationship between lifestyle decisions and their impact on climate change. This program was undertaken in November 1997 and the results would form the basis of a national effort to encourage household-level decisions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Agency also supports environmentally-friendly lifestyle activities through its green purchasing programs. The "Eco-Mark" program, one of the best-known Agency initiatives, is an environmental labeling program that screens products against specific environmental and energy consumption criteria. Currently, approximately 2000 products meet the criteria and proudly display the Eco-Mark label, which helps consumers to include environmental considerations in their purchasing decisions. The Agency's other priority is to work with citizen groups and non-profit organizations. In an exciting grassroots action, the Agency supported an NGO effort to raise public awareness, encouraging citizens from all over Japan to join in a direct appeal to world leaders by riding their bicycles in a relay throughout Japan to Kyoto. In this historic and compelling symbol of Japan's desire for action to stop climate change, riders converged at Kyoto on November 30, 1997, one day before the opening of the Kyoto Conference.

THE ECO-LIFE PLEDGE:

  1. I will refuse the bags offered at the cash register and use my own bags when shopping.
  2. I will separate garbage and recycle cans, bottles, magazines, newspapers, etc.
  3. I will keep room temperature below 20o C in winter and above 28o C in summer.
  4. I will turn off fluorescent lights and pull the plugs on appliances when not using them.
  5. I will walk or ride my bike when going a short distance for light shopping; I will take public transportation when going out on weekends.
  6. I will use as little water as possible when washing my face, brushing my teeth, etc.
  7. I will lower the temperature on my water heater.
  8. I will buy goods that display the Eco-Mark whenever possible.
  9. I will not waste food and will try to cook in an eco-friendly way, conserving energy whenever possible.
  10. I will use the "Kankyo-Kakebo" (an environmental household bookkeeping system developed by the Environment Agency) to make sure that I am living an environmentally friendly lifestyle.
  11. I will turn off the engine of my car when waiting for someone or when picking up or dropping off loads.
  12. I will use the stairs instead of the elevator when going up three floors or less.
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