Global Environment

National Action Plan for Agenda 21 -Chap. 9

[Agenda 21] National Action Plan for Agenda 21

Chapter 9 PROTECTION OF THE ATMOSPHERE

A) Addressing the Uncertainties: Improving the Scientific Basis for Decision-Making

As regards scientific knowledge concerning protection of the air, areas of uncertainty still exist. In order to obtain the basic knowledge and consensus essential for taking appropriate measures, it is necessary to continue to reduce uncertainties. For this reason, it is necessary to promote, in an internationally coordinated manner, scientific surveys and research relating to the process of climate change, observation and monitoring, and surveys and research aimed at clarifying the socio-economic effects of the measures of mitigation and adaptation. In addition to promoting surveys and research on the protection of the atmosphere in Japan, Japan has established the "Comprehensive Promotion Program for Global Environmental Research, Monitoring and Development" and the "Basic Plan for Research and Development on Earth Science and Technology," and comprehensively promotes surveys, research, observation and monitoring of the protection of the atmosphere on a global scale. Furthermore, in addition to providing assistance for activities conducted by such international organizations as the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), which play an important role in the formation of scientific understanding, as well as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Japan has been constantly exchanging information obtained from bilateral surveys and research, as well as conducting joint research.

In addition to continuing these efforts as indicated above, Japan attaches importance to the implementation of the following activities:

(1)
Japan will improve its global and systematic observation system, which utilizes satellites, marine observation vessels, etc.
(2)
Japan will actively participate in the Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) program and the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS).
(3)
Japan will promote the expansion, improvement and development of its data base, and make efforts to establish networks.
(4)
Japan will conduct research and development on air monitoring technology that utilizes radio waves and light, and on advanced technology for predicting global warming.(
(5)
Japan will further promote its research for gaining a clearer understanding of various natural phenomena which have to do with climate change.
(6)
Japan will promote research to gain a clearer understanding of mechanisms of environmental change, and research regarding reductions of environmental load and methods to comprehensively evaluate the effect of the economy on the environment as well as the benefits of the environment to the economy.

9-B) Promoting Sustainable Development: General Remarks

Wide-ranging and versatile efforts in a variety of areas of economic activity are necessary for protecting the atmosphere on a global scale.

While achieving steady economic growth, and keeping in line with the idea of sustainable development and the importance of the effects of global warming, as well as to the possibility of enforcing measures for mitigating and adapting to global warming, it is necessary for Japan to rapidly stabilize the emission of greenhouse gasses which is the primary cause of global warming. This is seen as a first step in the international efforts for limiting the emission of greenhouse gasses.

Forests, which serve as a sink of carbon dioxide, are being depleted on a global scale, and giving due consideration to the relationship between Japan and the world's forest resources, and keeping in line with the idea of sustainable development, it is necessary for Japan to take the initiative for the prevention of deforestation, forest conservation and afforestation.

Furthermore, in order to reduce uncertainty about global warming, and to devise appropriate measures which take into consideration scientific understanding, in addition to promoting surveys and research, observation and monitoring, it is necessary for Japan to make efforts to achieve innovative technological development, and to make efforts to spread these technologies.

In October of 1990, Japan established the "Action Program to Arrest Global Warming," in order to clarify its basic position in making a contribution to the creation of an international framework for this issue. This was done while giving due consideration to the above-mentioned situations, clarifying present government policy for promoting measures regarding global warming in a well-planned and comprehensive manner, clarifying the overall view of future enforceable measures, and finally by obtaining the understanding and cooperation of the general public. The Program has been reported to the Earth Summit and it is Japan's international pledge to implement measures in accordance with this Action Program.

Furthermore, in May 1993, Japan became the twenty-first signatory of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate-Change, and under this convention it will aim at achieving the objective stated in the Action Program, which is to "stabilize the emissions of carbon dioxide emitted on a per capita basis in the year 2000 and beyond at about the same level as existed in 1990, and furthermore, through progress in the development of innovative technologies on a scale greater than currently predicted, Japan has decided to steadily enforce wide-ranging measures mentioned in the Action Program. These include such items as the formation of urban and regional structure, transportation systems, production structure, energy supply structure, the realization of sustainable lifestyles (all of which are accompanied by low CO2 emissions, and the reduction of methane and other greenhouse gases,) measures dealing with sources which absorb carbon dioxide, the promotion of scientific surveys and research, observation and monitoring activities, the development and diffusion of technology, the enhancement of public awareness, and international cooperation.

9-B) Promoting Sustainable Development

(a) Energy development, efficiency and consumption

Under the idea of "sustainable development," efficiently utilizing energy and reducing environmental load when using energy is an important requirement for establishing compatibility between the environment and development. Energy being the intermediary between environmental conservation and economic growth, it is necessary to address the issue of fundamentally reforming its supply and demand structure.

Taking such understanding into consideration, Japan is promoting the development and introduction of new and renewable energyand the promotion of the effective use of resourcesthrough 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 additionally establishing the recent "Law for Provisional Measures Regarding the Promotion of Business Activities Concerning the Rationalization of the Energy Use and with the Use of Recycled Resources." Japan is putting greater efforts into 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 Demand and Supply 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 the 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 and improve systems for the purchase of excess electrical power from dispersed-type power sources by electric power companies.

Japan will 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

In addition to promoting development of technology for enhancing the efficiency of thermal generation and technology for reclaiming unused energy, technology for new and recyclable energy in the "New Sunshine Project," and technology for conserving energy, Japan will promote research on technology for such next-generation energy forms as nuclear fusion.

(3)
Transferring technology for energy with reduced environmental load to developing countries, as well as technology for the efficient use of energy

In order to contribute to compatibility between environmental conservation and development in developing countries, Japan is conducting various kinds of surveys in accordance with such schemes as the Green Aid Plan which provides assistance to developing countries to assist their self-help efforts in dealing with energy-related environmental problems, as well as receiving trainees from developing countries, training people by dispatching experts to developing countries, and conducting joint research projects. Japan will transfer and spread energy-related environmental technology to these developing countries through model projects for energy conservation and cooperation concerning new energy sources, including photovoltaic power generation projects.

9-B) Promoting Sustainable Development

(b) Transportation

Carbon dioxide emissions from the transport sector tend to increase as the amount of automobile traffic increases. Approximately 20% of all carbon dioxide emissions in Japan come from the transport sector and in order to prevent global warming, it is necessary to limit these emissions.

Also, nitrogen dioxide and suspended particulate matter adversely affect human respiratory organs, and regulations on automobile exhaust gas emission have been successively tightened since 1973. However, improvements in the condition of nitrogen dioxide pollution in large cities have not been satisfactory, and limiting those emissions has become a significant issue.

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

I. Reducing carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions from individual means of transport
(1)
In order to limit emissions of carbon dioxide, Japan has established guidelines for fuel consumption efficiency of gasoline-fueled vehicles recognizing that limiting fuel consumption results in lower emissions of carbon dioxide. In addition to having established even stricter passenger car fuel efficiency standards in January of1993, Japan is also studying the establishment of fuel -efficiency guidelines for gasoline-fueled trucks.
(2)
As regards nitrogen oxides, Japan will further tighten already existing regulations on individual automobiles, based on the Automobile NOx Reduction Law of May 1992 (the law concerning special measures for total emission reduction of nitrogen oxides from automobiles in specified areas.) Japan will also restrict the use of vehicles which emit large amounts of nitrogen oxides, specifically trucks and buses, in such designated areas as Tokyo and Osaka and their surrounding areas.
(3)
Furthermore, in addition to promoting technological development of vehicles which emit lower amounts of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides, Japan will also promote the adoption of low-emission vehicles such as electric vehicles, methanol fueled vehicles, natural gas fueled vehicles and hybrid-engine vehicles (which store energy at the time of braking, and use it to accelerate again), beginning with those which are proven practical and economically feasible. Japan will also promote the development and adoption of electric trains, ships and aircraft that emit smaller amounts of carbon dioxide,.
II. Formation of a transportation system that emits smaller amounts of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides, etc.
(1)
In order to develop a transportation system which emits smaller amounts of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides, Japan will promote the selection of appropriate means of freight transportation through the active utilization of railways and ships and by the development of railways, ships and harbors and improving related facilities such as road access for medium- and long-distance trunk-line transport. For urban and regional transport, Japan will promote combined shipping of freight into trucks, joint shipping for transport, and the development of concentrated distribution centers. For passenger transportation, Japan will promote the development of railways, buses and new transportation systems, and the improvement of junctions between the various means of public transportation. In addition to promoting the use of public transportation, Japan will also promote the improvement of facilities used by pedestrians and cyclists.
(2)
In order to alleviate automobile congestion at road intersections, and to promote such road improvement as that of bypasses and circumferential roads to ensure efficient and smooth vehicle travel, Japan will improve road intersections and the intersections between roads and railways. Japan will promote comprehensive parking measures, the advancement of precise traffic regulations and a system of traffic control, as well as the advancement of media for disseminating accurate information regarding road traffic.
(3)
As regards the emission of nitrogen oxides from automobiles, the prefectures and specified areas establish Total Volume Reduction Plans based on the Automobile NOx Reduction Law, and Japan will improve transportation efficiency through the construction of an efficient distribution system, promote the selection of appropriate means of transportation, promote the use of public transportation, and promote measures for the smooth flow of traffic in a comprehensive and well-planned manner.
(4)
It is laid down in the Fourth Comprehensive National Development Plan that, in forming transportation systems, efforts will be made to prevent traffic pollution and secure safe and smooth transportation, while giving consideration to the improvement of the regional environment.

Also, it is expected that the formation of a transportation system that produces smaller amounts of carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides should also be an effective measure to reduce noise and vibration caused by automobiles.

III. Cooperating with developing countries

Japan will cooperate with developing countries to reduce the amount of automobile emissions by improving inspection systems, transferring related inspection technology, encouraging the adoption of more energy-efficient means of public transportation, and the drawing up of a master plan for achieving efficiency in distribution of goods. Japan will also actively cooperate with developing countries in enforcing comprehensive measures regarding traffic pollution.

9-B) Promoting Sustainable Development

(c) Industrial Development

Not only do companies face the pollution-related problems of former times, but they are also confronted with a growing range of environmental problems, including those of global warming and waste. Also, the economic activities of companies often affect the public and other sectors as well. Accordingly, in order to promote a sustainable socio-economic system with reduced environmental load, it is necessary for companies to voluntarily and spontaneously develop environmentally proper industrial technology to lessen pollution.

Meanwhile, to deal with air pollution by such hazardous substances as sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides, Japan has devised measures to regulate emissions, based on the Air Pollution Control Law, and has thus prevented such pollution. These pollution control measures have contributed to the success of private companies involved in technology development by creating and expanding the market for pollution prevention equipment. Also, by enacting the Law for Promotion of Utilization of Recyclable Resources, the Law Concerning the Rational Use of Energy, and the Law on Temporary Measures to Promote Business Activities for the Rational Use of Energy and Utilization of Recycled Resources, Japan has devised positive measures regarding the promotion of energy conservation and recycling. Additionally, with an understanding that it is important to encourage companies to conduct voluntary activities in support of environmental conservation, Japan requires companies to devise a "Voluntary Plan on the Environment," and is promoting an acceleration of the voluntary activities of companies for dealing with environmental problems, including the announcement of guidelines for environmentally sound corporate operations.

It is necessary for Japan to continue to assist companies in their activities to develop industrial technology which contributes to the protection of the air, and it is particularly important to promote the practical application of technologies which can be put into use within a relatively short period of time, as well as the practical application of technology which cannot necessarily be developed by the efforts of companies alone.

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

(1)
Japan will appropriately enforce pollution regulations, including regulations on emissions, based on the Air Pollution Control Law.
(2)
Japan will provide economic and systematic assistance for private development of practical applications of technology and the adoption of facilities contributing to rationalization in the use of energy for overall manufacturing processes at companies.
(3)
Japan will promote measures based on the Program to Arrest Global Warming and the Law Concerning the Protection of the Ozone Layer.
(4)
Japan will make systematic improvements to give shape to the innovative Environment and Energy Technological Development Project, based on The New Earth 21 program.
(5)
In addition to reinforcing activities for the dissemination of knowledge concerning the use of recyclable resources, Japan will consider the creation of a new framework whereby the practice of recycling will permeate the present socio-economic system.
(6)
So that progress can be achieved in reducing environmental load in voluntary and positive business activities, Japan will consider suitable measures, giving due consideration to international trends in the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), etc.

9-B) Promoting Sustainable Development

(d) Terrestrial and marine resource development and land use

Measures for land use and resources also affect the air. Taking, for example, the problem of global warming, the promotion of appropriate measures regarding land use and resources also prove effective for the protection of the air, limiting the emission of greenhouse gasses as well as increasing the amount of carbon sinks.

Sixty-seven percent of Japan's land is covered with forests. Forests have multi-faceted environmental conservation functions, including the prevention of pollution, and the maintenance of biological diversity. Their capability to absorb and fix carbon dioxide has a great effect in the prevention of global warming.

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

(1)
Primarily based on the "Basic Plan for Forest Resources" and the "National Forest Plan", Japan will promote a variety of measures in order to continuously maintain the functions of forests through the appropriate management of forestry.
(2)
From the point of view of the conservation of the living environment in urban areas, Japan is making well-planned improvements of urban green land, including those of urban parks, and improvements in the greening of public spaces such as roads and harbors, and will continue to make further improvements in these areas.
(3)
Japan will promote forest conservation and greening through financial aid and activities by the general public, including forest-planting festivals, the Green Feather Fund, the profit sharing forestry system, and national trust activities.
(4)
Japan has designated 5.44 million ha, or 14.4% of its total land area, as nature conservation areas or natural parks, based on the provisions of the Nature Conservation Law. In addition to appropriately enforcing regulations on land use, Japan will continue to conserve regional forests, ocean areas and other ecosystems.

9-C) Preventing Stratospheric Ozone Depletion

In September of 1988, Japan acceded to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and accepted the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, further accepting the amended protocol (amended in 1990) in September 1991. Also, in May 1988, Japan established a domestic law (the Law concerning the Protection of the Ozone Layer through the Control of Specified Substances and Other Measures (the Ozone Layer Protection Law)) to ensure observance of control measures based on the Montreal Protocol, and amended it in March 1991.

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

(1)
Japan will actively engage itself in measures for the protection of the ozone layer, taking such steps as accepting the Amendment to the Montreal Protocol in 1992, amending the domestic law, and ensuring reduction of the production and consumption amounts of such controlled substances as chlorofluorocarbons based on these steps and measures. In adopting alternative substances and technologies for this purpose, Japan will give due consideration not only to the protection of the ozone layer but also to other requirements of environmental conservation. Furthermore, in order to contribute to controlling the emission of the designated substances into the atmosphere, Japan will also promote the recovery and recycling of these substances.
(2)
As regards assistance to developing countries, Japan will actively carry out the dissemination of scientific knowledge and technology transfer concerning the protection of the ozone layer, through such means as contributing to Multilateral Funds for the protection of the ozone layer, providing technological cooperation through international bodies and using the system for group training by the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA).
(3)
As regards the observation and monitoring of the ozone layer, Japan will further improve observation and monitoring systems by means of improving and reinforcing the Global Ozone Observing System (GO3OS), participating in the Network for Detecting Stratospheric Change (NDSC), and continuing observation by satellites. Japan will continue to conduct observation and monitoring of the levels of controlled substances in the atmosphere and on harmful ultraviolet radiation, while making improvements to the system.
(4)
Through the Global Environment Research Fund and the Development Fund for New Refrigerants for Compressed Heater Pumps, etc., Japan is conducting surveys and research on the depletion of the ozone layer to get a clearer understanding of this phenomenon and its effects on human beings and the ecosystem. Additional surveys and research are aimed at related technology (development of alternative substances, destruction technology), and Japan will make improvements in this area as well as actively help enterprises take voluntary actionsto develop applications which do not contain or are not produced with controlled substances and to recover used controlled substances.

9-D) Transboundary Air Pollution

Air pollutants are often carried across national borders from their country of origin by monsoon or upper air currents , causing adverse effects to human health and ecosystems in surrounding countries.

Air pollution in the east Asian region, which includes Japan, is worsening due to the rapid urbanization and industrialization, and there is insufficient knowledge of the types and amounts of such pollutants. For this reason, it is necessary for the countries involved to cooperate with one another, with appropriate coordination between local authorities and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to get a clear understanding of the state of transboundary air pollution in this region, and for them to make efforts to deal with this problem.

In view of the fact that it is necessary for each country to promote air pollution control measures, Japan has been providing assistance to developing countries, including countries in east Asia, helping them deal with air pollution through dispatching experts and receiving trainees to and from these countries, providing them with necessary equipment, etc., based on Japan's experience in air pollution control policies. Japan has also called for cooperation in environmental areas, including the prevention of transboundary air pollution, with the various countries in the northeast Asian region through active participation in the Conference on Regional Environments under the Regional Economic Commission of the United Nations, and by hosting the North-East Asian Conference on Environmental Cooperation.

Also, because there have been no efforts to reduce the air pollutants discharged by ships, discussions are taking place, mainly at the International Maritime Organization (IMO,) concerning measures to reduce the emission of these air pollutants.

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

(1)
In order to get a clear understanding of transboundary air pollution, Japan will promote research and development on technology for measuring the levels of substances which cause acid precipitation, the development of an acid precipitation monitoring network in Japan, surveys and research on the effects of acid precipitation, the establishment of an acid precipitation monitoring network in East Asia and the development of a forecasting model of acid precipitation in East Asia region.
(2)
In order to deal with transboundary air pollution, Japan will take comprehensive actions including surveys on pollution conditions and discharge amounts and the implementation of effective measures with the cooperation of related countries.
(3)
Japan will develop technology for reducing the emission of air pollutants that is suitable for the conditions in developing countries worldwide, and strengthen international cooperation by the transfer of such technology through bilateral and multilateral mechanisms.
(4)
Japan will conduct research and development of technology for abating air pollutant discharge by ships.

Ministry of the Environment Government of Japan

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