Global Environment

National Action Plan for Agenda 21 -Chap. 4

[Agenda 21] National Action Plan for Agenda 21

Chapter 4 CHANGING CONSUMPTION PATTERNS

A) Focusing on Sustainable Patterns of Production and Consumption

Reconsidering the patterns of production and consumption observed thus far, it is important for Japan to promote further efficiency in the use of resources and energy, to integrate the reutilization and recycling of goods, and to reconsider wasteful lifestyles and customs in order to allow sound development of the economy of a new society with a reduced environmental load.

In order to realize this goal, it is necessary for Japan to make appropriate use of any available measures, including regulatory, non-regulatory, economic and others, to promote voluntary activities of corporations and citizens, improvement of facilities for environmental conservation, the utilization of science and technology, environmental impact assessment, and related surveys and research.

Taking the above into account, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
As regards regulatory measures, Japan will appropriately apply these to actions that might be damaging to human health and/or the living environment, as well as to actions that might be damaging to the natural environment.
(2)
As regards the promotion of voluntary activities by corporations and citizens, Japan will support environmental education for both sectors, encourage activities which contribute to environmental conservation, assist non-governmental organizations which conduct environmental conservation activities , and appropriately provide the information needed for these activities.
(3)
As regards economic measures, Japan will appropriately conduct surveys and research on the effectiveness of such measures in support of environmental conservation and on the effects of the implementation of such measures on Japan's economy. When it is necessary to implement such measures, Japan will make efforts to acquire the understanding and cooperation of the people to effectively achieve environmental conservation. Similarly, when such measures are to be implemented for the purpose of global environmental conservation, Japan will consider international collaboration so as to appropriately ensure the effectiveness of such measures.
(4)
As regards the construction of facilities for environmental conservation, Japan will actively promote the construction of public facilities in support of environmental conservation, such as buffer zones, public waste disposal facilities, traffic facilities that contribute to reducing environmental load, and facilities to improve energy efficiency. Japan will also actively promote construction and utilization of these facilities in the private sector.
(5)
As regards science and technology for environmental conservation, including pollution-prevention technology, energy-related technology, and information and communication technology, Japan will advance this technology by promoting related research and development and international research cooperation. Japan will also continue to appropriately apply this science and technology as well as methods of environmental impact assessment. Furthermore, Japan will conduct surveys and research on the mechanisms of environmental change, the reduction of environmental load, and the development of methods to comprehensively evaluate both the effects of economic activities on the environment and the economic blessings derived from the environment, examples of which include the new System of National Accounts (SNA) including the Satellite System for Integrated Environmental and Economic Accounting (SEEA).
(6)
As regards the expertise obtained from the above-mentioned activities, Japan will gladly provide them to foreign countries, particularly to developing countries, through official development assistance (ODA), plus assistance provided by non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

4-B) Developing National Policies and Strategies to Encourage Changes In Unsustainable Consumption Patterns

(a) Pursuing Efficiency In the Use of Energy and Resources

There is a strong demand for efficient use of energy and resources in order to realize compatibility between environmental conservation and economic growth under the central idea of "sustainable development." Energy being an intermediary between environmental conservation and economic growth, it is necessary to address the issue of fundamentally reforming its supply and demand structure.

Taking these needs into consideration, the development and introduction of new energy and renewable energy, as well as the promotion of the effective use of resources has become a priority. Meeting these needs is being accomplished by such means as establishing the "Law Concerning the Rational Use of Energy," the "Law Concerning the Promotion of the Development and Introduction of Alternative Energy," and the "Law Regarding the Promotion of the Use of Recycled Resources," as well as devising the Basic Plan for Energy Research and Development, and recently establishing the "Law for Provisional Measures Regarding the Promotion of Business Activities Featuring Rationalization of Energy Use and the Use of Recycled Resources." Japan is also putting greater efforts into such things as amending the "Law Concerning the Rational Use of Energy," and the "Law Concerning the Promotion of the Development and Introduction of Alternative Energy" and the "Law on Special Accounts for Coal, Petroleum and Oil-Alternative Energy" (now known as the "Law on Special Accounts for Coal, Petroleum and the More Sophisticated Structure of Supply and Demand of Energy")

Taking the above into account, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities.

(1)
Introducing and disseminating energy with reduced environmental load as well as promoting more efficient use of energy and resources.

In order to introduce and disseminate new and renewable energy, Japan will promote model projects and field test programs for the generation of new energy forms, utilize financial assistance measures to allow electric power companies to purchase excess electrical power from dispersed-type power sources and improve systems to distribute it. Japan will also provide financial aid for investment in and adoption of facilities for promoting energy conservation. Furthermore, Japan will promote the development and utilization of nuclear energy, under the condition that safety is assured, as a form of energy that does not emit carbon dioxide (CO2).

(2)
Promoting research and development of technology for energy with reduced environmental load, as well as technology for the efficient use of energy and resources.

Japan will promote the development of technology for enhancing the efficiency of thermal generation, technology for utilizing unused energy, technology for new and recyclable energy in the "New Sunshine Project," and technology for conserving energy. It will also promote research on next-generation energy technology, such as nuclear fusion.

(3)
Transferring technology for energy with reduced environmental loadand technology for the efficient use of energy and resources to developing countries.

In order to contribute to making environmental conservation and development compatible in developing countries, Japan will provide assistance to these countries to support their self-help efforts in dealing with energy-related environmental problems. This will assist in such areas as various kinds of surveys, receiving trainees, dispatching experts to conduct training, and conducting joint research projects. Japan will also transfer and spread energy-related environmental technology to developing countriesby conducting model projects for energy conservation, and cooperating on new energysources, including photovoltaic power generation projects.

(4)
Promoting recycling

In addition to formulating taxation systems to promote recyclingand facility investment for reducing environmental load, Japan will improve the social framework to provide integrated and comprehensive assistance for corporations.

As for consumer behavior, Japan will develop a social system that will educate consumers and assist in changing their patterns of consumption.

4-B) Developing National Policies and Strategies to Encourage Changes In Unsustainable Consumption Patterns.

(b) Reducing Waste Amounts

The rapid increase in the amount of waste, which causes various environmental problems, is an issue that must be solved in order to construct a socio-economic system with a reduced environmental load. In addition to minimizing the amount of waste generated by the production and consumption of goods, it is necessary to reduce waste amounts by promoting the use of recyclable resources.

Taking into account the above, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities, in order to reduce waste amounts and construct a socio-economic system based on the conservation and recycling of resources.

(1)
In order to reduce the amount of waste through the "Waste Disposal and Public Cleansing Law," which was amended in 1991, and "the law regarding the promotion of the use of recycled resources," which was established in the same year, Japan will construct a system of wide-ranging cooperation between the national government, local authorities, corporations and the general public.
(2)
Concretely speaking, in addition to making efforts to reduce the amount of waste generated by corporate activities, corporations will work to promote the use of recyclable resources, as well as to devise necessary waste countermeasures for products right from the design stage, while the general public will make efforts to reduce waste through the minimization of waste disposal, and the positive use of products which have been made with recyclable resources.
(3)
In order to reduce waste, the national government and local authorities will promote public awareness, environment-related education, assistance for voluntary activities in the private sector, as well as the improvement of systems and facilities.

4-B) Developing National Policies and Strategies to Encourage Changes In Unsustainable Consumption Patterns.

(c and d) Assisting Individuals and Households in Making Environmentally Sound Purchasing Decisions, and the Exercising Leadership through Government Purchasing

In order to construct a socio-economic system that will allow sustainable development with reduced environmental load, it is necessary to reduce environmental load as much as possible through social and environmental activities undertaken by the Government and all other entities. This means that efforts by individuals and households are essential to realize this objective. Particularly important among these efforts is the modification of consumption activities by individuals and households in their purchases of products (including services.) Due to the fact that these modifications will have a big influence on the activities of businesses, it is extremely important that they effectively reduce environmental load.

For this reason, after conducting sufficient surveys and research into the selection of products that reduce environmental load, governments themselves will take the initiative in modifying consumption activities, including the procurement of products, the promotion of environmental education and environmental conservation activities in order to change the awareness of the general public and businesses into one which is desirable for the selection of products with reduced environmental load. There will also be improvements and enhancements in systems for providing information on recycling and eco-labeling, which considerably affects product selection by the general public.

Taking the above into account, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
As regards government procurement, Japan will improve, strengthen and expedite its activities aimed at switching to recycled paper where possible, and promoting the adoption of low-emission vehicles, including electric cars, for government use.
(2)
As regards surveys and research, Japan will take international trends into consideration as it makes efforts to develop methods to estimate the environmental load in the various processes from collecting raw materials to disposing of products, thereby evaluating the degree of environmental friendliness of products (life cycle analysis). Japan will also improve its system of surveying and monitoring public opinion in order to grasp trends among consumers, as well as make improvements in surveys for detecting trends among businesses.
(3)
As regards the promotion of environmental education and environmental conservation activities, Japan will actively pursue these goals through a variety of opportunities and utilizing various methods to provide the general public with a sufficient understanding of the importance of the selection of products that reduce environmental load. Furthermore, Japan will raise awareness among businesses in regards to desirable corporate behavior from the viewpoint of the environment, and will also extend positive assistance to businesses for their voluntary activities which are in harmony with the environment.
(4)
As regards recycling, Japan will promote public knowledge and awareness so that a wide range of private citizens can participate in recycling activities. It will also conduct wide-ranging studies on the application of economic measures.
(5)
As regards eco-labeling and other systems for providing information, environmentally friendly products have been identified through the Japanese Eco-Mark System, and other means. Japan will further improve these systems for providing information, while taking into consideration the following; results of surveys and research on life cycle analysis, , trends among various countries concerning eco-labeling, and opinions of relevant parties including consumers and NGOs.

4-B) Developing National Policies and Strategies to Encourage Changes In Unsustainable Consumption Patterns

(e) Moving Towards Environmentally Sound Pricing

Various economic measures to appropriately reflect the environmental cost in the trading prices of products and services are expected to be effective in supporting environmental conservation, especially in such issues as global warming, and urban and household-generated pollution. They are also internationally recommended.

Taking the above into account, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities.

(1)
Japan will appropriately conduct surveys and research on the effectiveness of such measures in supporting environmental conservation and on the effects of the implementation of such measures on Japan's economy. When it becomes necessary to implement such measures, Japan will make efforts to acquire the understanding and cooperation of the people to effectively achieve environmental conservation. In this case, when such measures are to be implemented for the purpose of global environmental conservation, Japan will consider international collaboration so as to ensure the effectiveness of such measures.
(2)
As regards the costs for the collection and disposal of general waste, Japan will study measures to create and promote conditions for adopting a deposit system, in addition to controlling the discharge of waste by requiring households to assume an appropriate share of collection costs. Also, Japan will conduct wide-ranging studies on the application of economic measures, including studies on how to clarify the responsibilities of those who discharge the waste and on how to appropriately reflect the costs of waste collection and disposal on product prices.

It is the goal that the environmental costs that businesses will be responsible for, including their own activities, are reflected in product prices appropriately, since it is the consumers who are ultimately responsible for these costs.

4-B) Developing National Policies and Strategies to Encourage Changes In Unsustainable Consumption Patterns

(f) Positively Reinforcing Values That Support Sustainable Consumption Through Education and Public Relations

In order to construct a society which will allow sustainable development with reduced environmental load, it is essential for the general public and corporations to deepen their understanding of environmental conservation and to make spontaneous efforts in their daily lives and business activities.

For this reason, in addition to promoting education and studies on environmental conservation, as well as making improvements in public relations regarding conservation, it is important to change each social actor's value system so that a society can be formed in which voluntary efforts are positively appraised by each actor. In such a society, lifestyles that reduce environmental load are expected to be established through environmental education and actual activities.

Taking the above into account, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
As regards environmental education, learning and public relations activities, Japan will promote such education at schools, among households, in local regions and at the work place, as well as outdoors, with the cooperation of the public.
(2)
Also, in order to promote spontaneous learning based on people's participation in activities at these various places, Japan will positively employ various media for spreading information and educating the general public, cooperate with local authorities to promote education rooted in localities, and improve human resources and facilities for the acceleration of spontaneous activities by the general public and corporations.

Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan

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