Japan Needs to Step it Up in Copenhagen

Japan needs to step up and take a more prominent and visible leadership role at the U.N. climate talks or the conference could end in failure, Japanese and foreign nongovernmental organizations said Thursday.

The Copenhagen conference is supposed to forge a deal on greenhouse gas emissions after the first period of the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

With developed and developing countries still divided and a growing split within developing countries over some issues threatening a successful outcome at the conference, calls for the country where the protocol was forged to do more are growing.

“Talks in Copenhagen are on the verge of collapse, with negotiations suspended for several hours Wednesday as developed and developing countries clashed,” the environmental NGO Avaaz.org said.

“Next week, Japan has the opportunity to break the deadlock by announcing an ambitious Hatoyama Initiative and fulfilling its obligation to provide developing countries with sufficient climate finance.”

With developing nations asking for hundreds of billions of dollars in aid guarantees for climate change mitigation and adaptation, developed countries like Japan are feeling pressure to go well beyond financial pledges of $10 billion annually from 2010 to 2012, which are currently being discussed.

Read more of this story: Japan under fire for laying low in Copenhagen

More Information:
COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference Copenhagen 2009

Source: Japan Times

Super Carbon Eating Plants to Ease Global Warming and More

Japanese researchers said on Thursday they had found a way to make plant leaves absorb more carbon dioxide in an innovation that may one day help ease global warming and boost food production.

The Kyoto University team found that soaking germinated seeds in a protein solution raised the number of pores, or stomas, on the leaves that inhale CO2 and release oxygen, said chief researcher Ikuko Hara-Nishimura.

“A larger number means there are more intake windows for carbon dioxide, contributing to lowering the density of the gas,” she told AFP by telephone.

Another effect is higher starch production in photosynthesis, the process in which green plants use CO2 and water to produce sugar and other organic compounds.

“It could lead to higher production of food and materials for biofuel,” said Hara-Nishimura, a biology professor at Kyoto University’s Graduate School in western Japan.

In the experiments, the team used budding leaves of thale cress, a plant formally called Arabidopsis, which has a short life span of two months and is widely used as a model plant in biology.

They found that the number of pores multiplied relative to the concentration of the solution of the protein, which the researchers named Stomagen, achieving a maximum of four times the number of pores of an untreated plant.

An ideal increase would be two-to-three times, as too many pores impede the functions of other cells in the surface of the plant, Hara-Nishimura said.

Stomagen is easy but costly to produce chemically, and the team is working on a cheaper way to make it, Hara-Nishimura said, adding that an alternative may be to genetically modify plants to have more pores.

Japan expresses doubt on final agreements being made at the upcoming climate talks

Japan’s envoy to climate change talks expressed doubt Wednesday that a final agreement would be reached at the UN summit on tackling global warming that starts next week in Copenhagen.

“Due to time constraints … we would have to say it will be difficult to agree on a legally binding text” at the December 7-18 meeting, said Environment Minister Sakihito Ozawa.

However, he expressed hope that a non-binding political agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions can be signed by 192 nations there that would pave the way for a final text.

Such a political agreement should include the reduction targets of industrialized countries, mitigation actions by developing countries, pledges of financial aid, and a deadline for a legally binding text, he said.

“The negotiations will be complex, with a high degree of difficulty, but I believe it is possible to achieve a historical politically binding agreement,” he told reporters.

The center-left government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has promised to slash emissions by 25 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, as long as major emitters such as the United States and China also take meaningful action.

Japan, where the Kyoto Protocol was signed in 1997, has so far struggled to meet its own previous target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by six percent between 1990 and the 2008-2012 period.

Tokyo has also pledged 9.2 billion dollars in aid to developing countries by 2012 to help them combat global warming.

More Information:
COP15 United Nations Climate Change Conference Copenhagen 2009

Source: AFP

Ocean Warming Causes Jellyfish to Swarm Japan’s Northern Waters

The fishermen leaned into the nets, grunting and grumbling as they tossed the translucent jellyfish back into the bay, giants weighing up to 450 pounds, marine invaders that are putting the men’s livelihoods at risk.

The venom of the Nomura, the world’s largest jellyfish, a creature up to 6 feet in diameter, can ruin a whole day’s catch by tainting or killing fish stung when ensnared with them in the maze of nets here in northwest Japan’s Wakasa Bay.

“Some fishermen have just stopped fishing,” said Taiichiro Hamano, 67. “When you pull in the nets and see jellyfish, you get depressed.”

This year’s jellyfish swarm is one of the worst he has seen, Hamano said. Once considered a rarity occurring every 40 years, they are now an almost annual occurrence along several thousand miles of Japanese coast, and far beyond Japan.

Scientists believe climate change — the warming of oceans — has allowed some of the almost 2,000 jellyfish species to expand their ranges, appear earlier in the year and increase overall numbers, much as warming has helped ticks, bark beetles and other pests to spread to new latitudes.

For more information:
Ocean warming causes jellyfish to swarm northern waters

Source: nydailynews.com

Japan Goes Green with “Eco-Point” System

Applications for the ”eco-point” system, which Japan has introduced to stimulate purchases of more energy-efficient electric appliances, totaled around 510,000 in the first month, according to a government tally compiled through Saturday.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said the eco-point program has helped to boost sales of flat-panel televisions and refrigerators.

After launching the program on May 15, the government began accepting consumer registrations for eco-points and applications to exchange the points for merchandise, gift coupons and electronic money on July 1.

Under the eco-point system, people who buy designated energy-saving appliances, including air conditioners, between May 15 and March 31 will be eligible for the points, with each eco-point worth roughly one yen.

5 major Japanese firms launch coalition to combat global warming

Five major Japanese companies said Thursday they have jointly launched an organization to fight global warming by creating a sustainable low carbon society.

Aeon Co., the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Fujitsu Ltd., Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. and Ricoh Co. have founded the Japan Climate Leader’s Partnership, or Japan-CLP, which they said supports the idea of halving global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The launching of the joint body, unique among Japanese businesses, comes ahead of a key UN climate change conference to be held in Copenhagen in December aimed at creating a global framework to replace the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on fighting global warming.

“We have founded Japan-CLP to urge the industrial community to develop a sound sense of urgency on the issue of climate change and to initiate more proactive actions, “the five companies said, adding Japan-CLP will provide support for “helping emissions to peak out at the earliest possible stage.”

“The transformation to a sustainable low-carbon society will also open up new business opportunities driven by appropriate policies and frameworks, and the proactive engagement of corporations,” they said in a statement.


Let’s get Obama to Pledge Really Green Public Works

blue_goals_spotWith the new pledges in Public Works that Obama is making there are no new ideas. Converting government buildings to green buildings is a step in the right direction to saving energy, but it’s not a new idea. Maintenance of roads and interstates are not going to solve any global warming issues. It’s just more of the same. We need to invest in real infrastructure change. A large scale project such as commuter Bullet Trains that connect each major city would have the biggest impact on helping to curb emissions and protecting the environment. It would also set up central hubs that smaller state projects could tie into and that opens the door to suburban commuter trains, which could truly lessen our dependence on oil and help us be free of more cars. In Japan, automakers are seeing a decline in automobile sales due to the fact that the younger generation is not buying cars! It’s no wonder, if you go to any major city in Japan, you will see a great mass transit system. And better than that there are bullet trains connecting all parts of the country and major cities. Why not invest in this instead of bailing out so many failing automakers in America? Better, instead of a bail-out give these failing automakers the contracts to build the trains and create this infrastructure, while modernizing their industry. Or give it to the failing airline industry and lets start taking domestic trains instead of domestic planes.

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