G8 Environment Ministers' Meeting in Otsu
The G8 Environment Ministers' Meeting was held from 7 to 9 April 2000 in Otsu, Japan. Ministers discussed four key themes: climate change, sustainable development in the twenty-first century, environment and health, and follow-up on previous meetings. The main conclusions and outcomes of the communique are summarized here. The communique was handed to Mr. Yoshiro Mori, Prime Minister, by Ms. Kayoko Shimizu, Minister of State, Director-General of Environment Agency, as the chair of this meeting on 10 April.The Ministers confirmed their commitment to ensure that results are achieved at the upcoming Sixth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and to promote the ratification and entry into force of Kyoto Protocol as soon as possible. For most countries, this means no later than 2002.
1. Successful completion of COP6 for the early entry into force of Kyoto Protocol: further promotion of global actions to address climate change
2. Strengthening domestic actions to address climate change by G8 countries
G8 countries have already begun to take various domestic actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Kyoto Mechanisms are confirmed to be supplemental to domestic actions.
Using the opportunities and advantages of the market and sending the right signals to the market are important for effectively addressing climate change. Business opportunities are emerging in a broad range of economic sectors as the need for new climate-friendly products and services grows.
The Ministers welcomed the recommendations of the G8 Environmental Futures Forum in February 2000 in Kanagawa, Japan, regarding "best practices" addressing climate change in domestic policies and measures.
Sustainable development in the 21st century and Rio+10
1. Sustainable development in the 21st century
The Ministers agreed that countries must break with the unsustainable development patterns seen in the twentieth century. Participants reaffirmed commitments to have in place national strategies for sustainable development by 2002.
The Ministers pledged to promote waste reduction, reuse, recycling and appropriate waste disposal.
We will promote international assessments of freshwater resources and fully utilize our experiences and expertise in water management to assist developing countries.
The Ministers urged countries to begin to implement the proposals for action from the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) and its predecessor, the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests.
The Ministers pledged to enhance energy efficiency and promote environmentally sound energy mixes, and work with developing countries to expand their supplies of sustainable energy.
Sustainable development should be pursued with the full participation of all stakeholders. Efforts by local government, communities, private commercial enterprise and NGOs were encouraged to exchange experiences and best practices domestically and internationally.
2. Strengthening of international frameworks in the field of the environment
The Ministers expressed their expectations for the early establishment by the United Nations of an Environmental Management Group.
The Ministers pledged to strengthen their efforts to guarantee that globalization supports sustainable development through the framework of environmental agreements and institutions.
3. Rio + 10 (The 10-year review of the UNCED held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992)
High expectations are placed on the upcoming conference Rio + 10 meeting, the first comprehensive global meeting on sustainable development in the twenty-first century. All regions and stakeholders were urged to enter the preparatory process. Consideration should be given to having Rio+10 by delegates at the head of state or government level.
The environment and health
The Ministers confirmed a commitment to the precautionary principle in dealing with the effects of pollution and other forms of environmental degradation, and confirmed that high priority should be attached to protecting children, pregnant women, the elderly, and others who are disproportionately susceptible.
The Ministers pledged to promote comprehensive measures to reduce the generation of dioxins and furans.
The Ministers pledged to make efforts for the early entry into force of the Rotterdam Convention (Convention on the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade) and for the conclusion of a global convention on persistent organic pollutants (POPs) by the end of 2000.
Follow-up on previous G8 Environment Ministers' meetings
The Ministers welcomed the decision of the UNCSD. They pledged efforts towards the early entry into force of the 1996 Protocol to the London Convention.
They stressed the importance of the adoption of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and urged G8 countries to make all possible efforts for its early entry into force.
The Ministers recognized the importance of fully taking environmental concerns into account in the multilateral trading system in particular in the next Trade Round, and the stressed their need to work with their trade colleagues to advance the trade and environment agenda outside the WTO.
The Ministers recognized the possibility of significant environmental impacts of G8 export credit agencies.
The Ministers pledged to provide full support for broader participation in, effective implementation of, and compliance with, existing multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs).
Annual White Paper on the Environment 2000
The Quality of the Environment in Japan 2000, Japanese annual report on the environment was released on 31 May by the Environment Agency. The report emphasizes as the special theme the dawn of the "Environmental Century."
The paper states that humanity has reached a turning point; it is time to put the brakes on the deterioration of our environment and to truly promote sustainable development. One section describes past and new government policies and initiatives aiming to achieve these goals. The second major section goes into considerable detail about individuals and the importance of each and every person taking action: the role of individuals in environmental problems and society; the environmental burden of individual lifestyles; initiatives that individuals can undertake including green purchasing, funding and investing in environment-friendly alternatives, getting involved in citizens' groups, etc.; community-building; and partnership.
The paper shows how economic and administrative policies should take into consideration the coming social changes of this new century, such as economic globalization, the aging of society, and the information revolution. It also describes how personal life-style choices influence the whole of society, and how decisions by individuals affect corporate action.
In addition to covering a special theme each year, the annual report goes into detail on the actual state of the environment in Japan. This year it included statistics on air, water, soil, waste, chemical substances, nature and wildlife.
An English summary of the report will be available at a later date. Past summaries of the Quality of the Environment in Japan are available on the Internet at www.eic.or.jp/eanet/en/index.html
Environmental Accounting System
For a few years the Environment Agency has been promoting discussions in Japan about environmental accounting. In May the Agency released the year 2000 report entitled Developing Environmental Accounting Systems, which expands upon last year's Draft Guideline Disclosing Environmental Accounting Information. These materials have been developed with the input of experts from the government, industry and academia.
Environmental accounting consists of accounting procedures that companies and organizations can use to evaluate the costs and effectiveness of funds spent for environmental conservation. It is hoped that standardized approaches for accounting, analyzing and reporting will maximize the usefulness of environmental accounting to corporations and to society. Inside the company it is used as a management tool for managers, various departments in the organization, and all the personnel. Within society, environmental accounting can serve as a system to provide environmental information to the many stakeholders in society, including consumers, corporate suppliers and customers, investors, financial institutions, local residents, non-governmental organizations, governments, and the general public.
Under the guidelines, examples of categories to be monitored and reported include these costs and investments:
(i) environmental costs for controlling environmental impacts that are caused within a business
(ii) environmental costs for controlling environmental impacts that are caused in upstream or downstream as a result of production and service activities,
(iii) costs incurred by management activities,
(iv) costs incurred by research and development,
(v) costs incurred for activities in society, and
(iv) costs to respond to or remedy environmental damage.
The results or effectiveness of expenditures for the environment could be either "physical quantity units" suitable for measuring the amount of environmental impacts and the quantitative change and "monetary units" suitable for measuring business revenues and cost savings. Companies are encouraged to report in ways that allow comparisons between investments and their results. In addition, the guidelines encourage the reporting of results that can be actually measured, rather than hypothetical results based on assumptions. They also go so far as to recommend types of reporting forms.
The Environment Agency plans to continue improving the guidelines in the future.
Basic Law for the Promotion of the Formation of Recycling-Oriented Society
Japan is making concrete steps toward becoming a recycling-oriented society. On May 26th the Basic Law for the Promotion of the Formation of a Recycling-Oriented Society was passed in the Diet.
The need for such a law is urgent. Each year about 50 million tonnes of household waste and 400 million tonnes of industrial waste are produced in Japan; recycling rates are 10 percent and 42 percent, respectively. Estimates in 1996 pointed out that Japan would run out of waste disposal sites in 8.8 years and 3.1 years for household and industrial waste, respectively. The number of cases of illegal waste damping rose by 4.6 times to 1,273 per year between 1993 and 1998. General consensus has been growing in Japan that it must transform itself from being a society of mass production, mass consumption and mass disposal, to a society which promotes efficient resource use and recycling at every stage, including production, distribution, consumption and disposal.
In recent years, some preparatory steps have been made, including frequent amendments of the Waste Management Law, the establishment of new laws on the promotion of resource recycling of waste packages and containers, household electrical appliances, construction materials and waste food. However, this new Basic Law for the Promotion of the Formation of a Recycling-Oriented Society is intended to take a major step towards overarching legislation to promote sound material cycles. The main components of the law are described here.
1. Clarification of the concept of "Recycling-Oriented Society"
Proposes the concept of forming a society that limits the consumption of natural resources and put less strain on the environment, by controlling the generation of waste, using the recycled resources and ensuring proper waste disposal.
2. Definition of recyclable resources
Defines useful waste as recyclable resources and promotes recycling of them.
3. Establishes legislation for priority of treatment
For the first time a law will legislate the priority of waste treatment: (i) reduce waste generation, (ii) re-use, (iii) recycle, (iv) heat recovery, and (v) environmentally sound disposal.
4. Clarification of Roles
Responsibilities of the central and local governments, corporations, and citizens are clarified. Clarified in particular are (i) responsibilities of the waste emitting corporation or citizen, and (ii) the general principle of 'extended producer responsibility' under which producers of products bear a significant degree of responsibility for the environmental impacts of their products throughout the products' life cycles including downstream impacts from the disposal of the products.
5. Government to prepare Basic Plan
Government (Environment Minister) is to draw up the Basic Plan on the foundations of this law, under the guidance made by the Central Environment Council.
6. Government measures to promote sound material circulation
A number of specific measures and regulations are identified in order to (i) reduce waste generation, (ii) clarify the responsibility of parties who produce waste, (iii) clarify producers' extended responsibility, (iv) promote the use of products made from recycled materials, and (v) obligate parties who have damaged the environment by illegal waste damping to bear the cost of restoring the original conditions.
Amami Wildlife Center
The Environment Agency opened the Amami Wildlife Center in Kagoshima Prefecture in the southern part of Japan with an pref. Oopening ceremony was hold on 26 April and opened to the public from 29.
This center is to be a base for investigation of rare wildlife such as the ootoratusgumiWhite's thrush (Turdus dauma amami), Amami woodcock amamiyamagishi (Scolopax mira), and Amami rabbit amaminokurousagi(Pentalagus furnessi) that inhabit in Amami area and of the indigenous ecological system. And itThe Center will also promote thes preservation and multiplication propagation of rare wildlife and gives us variousprovide public information about them.
Opening hours is are from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.A.M. to 4:30P.M. Admission is free.
National Junior Eco-Club Festival 2000 in Nagano
On 25 and 26 March, a festival of Junior Eco-Clubs from all over Japan was held at venues in Nagano City, the site of winter Olympics in 1998, with the participation of about six hundred members and supporters. Ms. Kayoko Shimizu, Director General of the Environment Agency also attended this festival.
On the first day, each club reported on the results of its activities for the year through 398 poster exhibits and exchanged information. On the second day, through seven "villages"-Light Village, Soil Village, Water Village, Wind Village, Life Village, Junior Eco-Club Village and Nagano Village-consisting of booths prepared by citizens' group and companies, a quiz rally was conducted for participants to learn about the environment in a fun way. The festival also featured interesting exhibits including low emissions vehicles and solar cars, nature craft classes and science laboratories. More information about the Junior Eco-Club can be found on the Internet at http:// www.eic.or.jp/eanet/kids/ecokids.html
Revision of Red List of Species Completed
With the release this April of the revised list of threatened invertebrates in Japan, a panel of experts completed five years of work revising the country's entire Red List of threatened species of flora and fauna.
The Red List is the basis for the Red Data Book, which gives comprehensive data about the habitat conditions and environment of these species. Using criteria of the World Conservation Union (IUCN), the Red List classifies species that are critically endangered, endangered and vulnerable. The revisions of the Red Lists began in 1995, and resulted in the publication of new lists for amphibians and reptiles in 1997, mammals and birds in 1998, and brackish and freshwater fish in 1999.
The list of invertebrates just completed includes insects, shellfish, spiders, crustaceans and others. In total, 423 species were evaluated to be critically endangered or endangered and added to the list, including the Yanbarutenagakone (Cheirotonus jambar), Hyoumonmodoki (Melitaea scotosia), Kawashinjyugai (Margaritifera laevis), and the Nihonzarigani (Cambaroides japonicus). The Red Data Book for invertebrates will be published next year. Red Lists are available in Japanese on the Internet from the Environment Agency website (www.eic.or.jp/eanet).
In addition, the Red Data Book of reptiles and amphibians will be published by the Japan Wildlife Research Center. A total of fifty species are on the list, including eighteen reptiles such as the Kikuzatosawahebi (Opisthotropis kikuzatoi), Iheyatokagemodoki (Goniurosaurus kuroiwae toyamai), and Semaruhakogame (Cuora flavomarginata evelynae), and fourteen amphibians including Abe's salamander (Hynobius abei) and Ishikawa's frog (Rana ishikawae). This Red Data Book may be obtained from the Japan Wildlife Research Center, 2-29-3 Yushima, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0034.
New International Coral Reef Research and Monitoring Center
The International Coral Reef Research and Monitoring Center was opened in Ishigaki City, Okinawa Prefecture, with an opening ceremony on 12 May and a commemorative symposium on the 13th.
This Center is to study and monitor coral reefs especially in eastern Asia, collect and organize conservation-related information, and provide news about coral reefs by Internet, among other activities. The Center will also support exchanges among researchers and governments from Japan and overseas, as well as coral reef monitoring activities. It is hoped that this Center will play a leading role especially in eastern Asia as part of a Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network (GCRMN) according to International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI).
Japan-China Seminar on Minamata Disease
On 24 March a seminar on the Minamata disease was held in Beijing, cosponsored by the Environment Agency of Japan and the China State Environmental Protection Administration. Minamata is the name of a town in Japan where methyl mercury poisoning from a factory in the 1950s caused serious damage for health of many citizens. The incident also influenced the toughening of environmental pollution laws and standards.
Participants from Japan included victims of the Minamata disease, residents in the affected area, experts and academics, and personnel from local governments and the Environment Agency. They reported, from their own perspectives and experiences, about the influences of the incident on the local community, effects on human health and the process of identifying the causes of Minamata disease. Chinese administrative officials, corporate personnel and scholars also heard about the importance of preventing environmental pollution and taking prompt action when problems occur.
Tackling NOx Emissions
Nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from vehicle traffic and factories are said to be a major cause of air pollution and acid rain. In 1993 the Automobile NOx Control Law was put into force in Japan. The governor of each prefecture which contains a specified area developed an Emissions Reduction Plan (E.R.P.) under this law.Substitute gasoline-powered vehicles for polluting diesel trucks and buses.
The goal of these plans is to achieve Environmental Quality Standards (E.Q.S) for NO2 emissions in the specified areas by the end of FY2000. Prefectures with such areas include Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Osaka and Hyogo. A committee of experts established within the Agency recently released a report on the progress and problems with this policy. According to the report, it will be impossible to achieve the goals and greater efforts are needed to prevent air pollution caused by NOx emissions in the future. Below is the summary of the report.
NOx emission level: Only 60.8 percent of the monitoring stations in specified areas met E.Q.S. in FY1998.
Vehicle Ownership: The number of vehicles in the prefectures concerned increased by 20 percent from FY1990 to FY1997. Increases in use of diesel vehicles carrying freight, and growing proportion of heavy trucks are notable. In addition, vehicle traffic increased by 10 percent.
Emissions: Despite growing numbers of automobiles, NOx emissions actually decreased in Tokyo, Osaka, Kanagawa and Hyogo Prefectures between FY1990 and FY1997, although they still fell short of reduction targets. Emissions from diesel vehicles accounted for 80 percent of total vehicle emissions. Emissions from factories and industry decreased, but those from vehicles are still large.
Assessment of Progress: NOx emissions per vehicle decreased by 20 percent from FY1990 to FY1997 thanks to regulations on specified vehicles. The number of low emissions vehicles remains at only about ten thousand. Although each of six measures in the E.R.P. is being implemented (including strengthening of measures for individual automobiles, regulating vehicle types, promoting low emissions vehicles, and developing freight/passenger/traffic flow strategies) efficient methods still do not exist to evaluate the results of each measure by actual indicators.
Possible Future Strategies: Some ideas that should be considered to improve policies to tackle NOx emissions are listed below.
Have companies with more than certain number of vehicles make plans to limit NOx emissions, such as limiting vehicle use, etc.
Have each vehicle manufacturer set NOx emission targets.
Encourage manufacturers to display and explain NOx emissions ratings of their vehicles.
Introduce Traffic Demand Management (TDM), road pricing mechanisms, participation of residents.
Use economic measures (tax based on emissions, adjusted fuel taxes).
Strengthen the measures for highly-polluted areas.
Law on Promoting Green Purchasing
The Diet has passed a bill which
defines green procurement policies for central and local governments and
promotion of providing environmental products information. It is hoped that
exemplary initiatives by the government will promote demand for environmental
products and services in Japanese and speed progress towards a sustainable
society which will have less environmental impact. The law outlines the basic responsibilities
of the central government, local governments, corporations and citizens. It
will lead to greater use of labeling to provide information about products that
the government purchases, and require ministries and agencies to be aware of
environmental criteria for procuring products.
Under the law the Environment
Minister is to coordinate the preparation of a basic environmental procurement
guideline in cooperation with other ministries and agencies, who are to prepare
and publicize a green procurement plan in line with the guideline. At the end
of each fiscal year (March 31), they will be required to announce the results
of environmental procurement publicly and report to the Environment Minister.
This law will come into force on 1 April 2001.
Partial Revision Offensive Oder Control Law
Partial Revision of Offensive Odor Control Law
On 17 May, a partial revision of the Offensive Odor Control Law was promulgated in Japan.
Accidents such as fires at used tire disposal areas can discharge offensive odors and cause considerable concern among local residents.
When an accident occurs, it is essential to promptly obtain information about the accident and take correct action to minimize damage and impacts.
Administrative duties relating to regulation and measurement of offensive odors were transferred to local governments this April,
requiring strengthening of the system for measurement. This law shall come into force on 1 April 2001. A new obligation was added for the owner of the facility to report the condition of accident to the heads of cities, towns and villages.
Outline of the Revisions
I. Strengthening of response measures against offensive odors discharged by accidents
It will become obligatory for the owner of the facility where the accident has occurred to take action.
A new provision was created allowing heads of cities, towns and villages to give orders for emergency responses to the owner of facility.
Punitive measures will be applicable to persons who violate the emergency response orders.
II. Stipulation of Odor Judgment Technician
The revised law stipulates that the heads of cities, towns and villages can entrust the tasks concerned with measurement of odor index or odor emission rates to odor judgment technicians.
Stipulations about examinations for odor judgment technicians are started.
Chemical Substances for PRTR and MSDS are Designated
Japan moved one step forward to carry out a new Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (PRTR) System in Japan. In March a Cabinet Order put into force the "Law Concerning Reporting, etc. of Releases to the Environment of Specific Chemical Substances and Promoting Improvements in Their Management" which was promulgated on 13 July last year.
The procedure put into force new regulations that specify which chemical substances and businesses apply to Japan's new PRTR system as well as the Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) providing system.
354 Chemical Substances are set as Class I Designated Chemical Substances which are target for PRTR and MSDS. They were identified in a number of categories depending on their toxicity and their exposure characteristics:volatile hydrocarbons, chlorinated organic compounds, agricultural chemicals, metal compounds, and ozone depleting substances, etc. Class II Designed Chemical Substances are target only for MSDS and include 81 substances.
The procedure also specifies types of businesses which must report under the new PRTR system. Target industries include: metal mining, manufacturing, electricity, laundry waste disposal and many more. Firms in these industries must report if they have 21 or more employees and handle one tonne or more of the specified substances (0.5 tonnes for carcinogenic substances).
Businesses subject to PRTR reporting shall begin estimating the quantities of ClassI Desinated Chmical Substances both released to the environment and transferred in the waste in April 2001 and report it to the State government after April 2002.
Public Opinion Polls
Three Ministries conducted a national opinion poll on the global environment and lifestyles in Japan from 10 to 14 November 1999.avoid wasting electricity by turning off fluorescent lights and electrical appliances 54.8%
The outline of the results is as follows.
The number of people sarveyed: 2,000, The response rate: 67.30%
I. Attitude about global environmental problems
(i) Are you interested in global environmental problems?
Not interested 17.7%
(ii) Do you know the causes of global warming?
(Due to increases in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide)
Didn't know 12.4%
(iii) What do you think about individual actions to prevent global warming?
I am making personal efforts 73.9%
I think it's difficult to deal with individually 11.9%
I oppose putting the duty on individuals 3.1%
Not sure 7.1%
(iv) What changes should individuals make to prevent global warming effects?
moderate use of air conditioning 49.7%
use bicycles or public transport such as buses and trains, instead of cars 33.9%
convert to energy-saving electrical appliances 30%
use economical cars 28.6%
(v) What steps should be taken on the community level to prevent global warming?
promote recycling, etc. 62.5%
promote tree planting 53.5%
offer information of practical measures in daily life through publicity, magagines etc. 29.3%
(i) Are you aware of the discussion to introduce a daylight saving time system in Japan?
(This has been discussed in Japan in recent years but has not been introduced.)
Aware but not sure of details 25.1%
Not aware 18.6%
(ii) What do you think about energy-saving effects of introducing such a system?
Should be introduced even if effects are small. 37.7%
Should not introduce it even if we can save 500,000 kWh. There are more important measures. 17.5%
Not sure 34.6%
(iii) What effects on working hours do you expect from daylight saving time.
Will not affect working hours directly without changes to official starting and finishing time of work. 23.1%
There is no connection between daylight saving time and longer working hours. People make their own choices. 16.7%
People may working later because they feel they can't leave the office before dark. 14%
There is no connection. People already have different work styles, staggered work hours, flex time, etc. 13.9%
Not sure 22.9%
(iv) What do you think about the costs for introduction of daylight saving time?
We should be generous with costs if they can be recovered within a year. They are justified to sustain the global environment. 36.6%
Not necessary. 17%
Not sure. 34.3%
(v) What effect do you think this system can have on your life?
Fewer hours of electrical lighting because the sky will still be light in the evening. 29.7%
Possible to save energy on air conditioning because it the office will be still cool in the morning. 29.4%
We can have more contact with family member because of longer daylight hours. 25.7%
We can commute while it is still cool in the morning. 25.7%
Concern about changes in lifestyle. 23.3%
Can be less concerned because elderly and handicapped people can return home before dark. 23.1%
(vi) Do you agree with introducing daylight saving time?
Not sure 20.2%
* Why do you agree?
We can save energy. 68.2%
It is a good practice to use sunlight. 38%
With longer daylight hours we can do a lot more activities. 36.1%
On the first day of daylight saving is an opportunity to reconsider our lifestyles and global environmental problems. 24.5%
* Why do you disagree?
It's a hassle to reset the time and it causes confusion. 35.9%
I don't really think there is an energy-saving effect. 33%
It is not suited to Japanese natural and geographical features. 30%
Concern about lack of sleep, cumpulsion to attend cram schools, and increased crimes by juveniles. 29.3%
Concern about negative health effects of changing time. 29.3%
|4-6||OECD/Environment Policy Committee(Paris)|
|7-9||G8 Environment Ministers' Meeting (Otsu, Japan)|
| 9-20||11th Conference of the Parties to the CITES(Nairobi)|
|24-5 May||The 8th Session of the Commission of Sustainable Development (New York)|
|1-7||Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Nairobi)|
|8-10|| International Symposium 2000 on Groundwater, IAHR (Omiya, Japan)|
|15-26||5th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (Nairobi)|
|29-31||1st Global Ministerial Environment Forum/6th Special Session of Governing Council /(Malmö, Sweden)|
|31-5 Sept.||ESCAP Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific 2000 (Kitakyusyu, Japan)|
| 3||Environment Congress for Asia and the Pacific (Eco Asia2000)(Kitakyusyu, Japan)|