The Centre for International Governance Innovation

The Centre for International Governance Innovation

March 03, 2008 13:50 ET

"Green Japan": a model for environmental stewardship

Research shows multiple options available to governments to meet Kyoto obligations

WATERLOO, CANADA--(Marketwire - March 3, 2008) - Japan's experience sets an example for other nations facing tough standards set by the Kyoto Protocol, finds new research released this month from the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI).

In CIGI's newest Working Paper, Green Japan: Managing the Intersection of National Politics and Global Environmentalism, CIGI Senior Fellow Carin Holroyd reviews Japanese government policies and initiatives that are enabling the country to meet targets set by the Kyoto Protocol. Measures discussed in the paper include initiatives to combat global warming, production and use of low emission technologies, recycling laws, and "Eco Towns."

The Kyoto Protocol established firm guidelines for greenhouse gas emissions to decrease the impacts of global warming on the environment. Canada and other signatories acknowledged the need to change their national policies. Many governments, however, have treated the Protocol as an aspirational document, providing a guideline and targets to be balanced against national economic and social realities.

Japan, on the other hand, has taken the guidelines seriously. Dr. Holroyd's paper provides a detailed description of the many government programs launched in that country with considerable support from the population.

According to Dr. Holroyd, Japan has been successful in moving toward a sustainable environment through a combination of national, governmental leadership and a commitment to public engagement. Rather than focusing on punitive restrictions and costly regulations, Japan has emphasized changes in behavior that can be taken by every person, family, company and community. This position has drawn support from business and citizens.

Dr. Holroyd notes that Japan's government has been proactive in adopting new, environmentally-friendly technologies and that this in turn has encouraged the private sector to undertake "green" product, service and process development, examples of which are described in her study. Japan's corporate sector is becoming more environmentally conscious and is discovering new business opportunities in the process.

In Japan, academic, government and commercial research scientists have all been mobilized to develop solutions to environmental challenges, the paper states.

The amount of carbon dioxide emissions by GDP of Japan is the least among major industrialized countries in the world and public transportation accounts for 47% of all movements of people in Japan. The country emerged as a global environmental leader after the oil shocks of the 1970s, and has pursued a reliance on clean energy, particularly nuclear power, resulting in a number of major reclamations projects and conservation measures.

"International protocols are the primary currency of global governance," argues Dr. Holroyd. "Japan's approach to environmental protection and awareness is worthy of study because it demonstrates that the effort of a single government can bring the imperatives of Kyoto Protocol to bear on the national scene and provide a measure of guidance to other national seeking to tackle the same challenge."

For more information and to download this and other CIGI Working Papers, please visit:

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is a think tank that addresses international governance challenges and provides informed advice to decision-makers on multilateral governance issues. CIGI supports research initiatives by recognized experts and promising academics; forms networks that link world-class minds across disciplines; informs and shapes dialogue among scholars, opinion leaders, key policy-makers and the concerned public; and builds capacity by supporting excellence in policy-related scholarship. CIGI was founded in 2002 by Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of RIM (Research In Motion), and collaborates with and gratefully acknowledges support from a number of strategic partners, in particular the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. For more information, please visit

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