SGRA Kawaraban (Essay) in English
XIE Zhihai “Carbon-free Society”
I raised our individuality issues on environmental “Eco-bags” in SGRA Kawaraban (Essay 680). But I strongly feel that it is not easy to stop global warming only by individual effort.
At the “Climate Change Summit” this April, Japanese Government announced that Japan will decrease carbon dioxide emissions by 46% in 2030 compared with the figure of 2013. Japanese Government raised the figure significantly compared with the one which they submitted to United Nations after the Paris Agreement (in Climate Change) 2015. At the Summit, United States will reduce emission of carbon dioxide by 50-52% in the year 2030 comparing with the figure of the year 2005. China will reduce more than 65% in 2030 per GDP comparing with the year of 2005 and realize “carbon neutral” by 2060.
Frankly speaking I do not know how and to what extent we can change our daily living in order to realize the Japanese figure. Japanese big target figure is not linked with their framework for disposable plastics. I suppose big framework like environmental issue as SDGs are being tackled seriously by students through garbage separation etc. But for adults who are busy in offices, environmental issue is secondary importance.
There are two reasons. Firstly, the trend of working adults now are “less-TV” and “less-newspaper”. They are attentive in only what they are interested. If they are not interested in environmental issue, eco-information would be meaningless. The second reason is there are many people who take out corrugated cardboards and pet bottles on garbage day and we can see home waste every day. I know there are different understanding for waste separation by areas. I understand people in urban areas are keeping rules for waste separation properly caring what people think. It is difficult for me to presume reduction of carbon dioxide emissions by 10% or more in 2030 even if people would take actions accepting environmental issue seriously.
However, “Japan is great!” Japanese private enterprises are working hard despite there are gaps between the Government and citizens in their thinking. They are undertaking environmental issues by their own reasoning. I expect Japan would attain some level and which is very close to its goal. It may not be a dream and there is no ending if I take up examples. I would introduce a few companies whom I was impressed.
First, I take up Mitsubishi Corporation. They constructed recycling business of PET bottles.
What I thought “Great!” is “Chemical Recycle Technology” which was imported from Switzerland. PET bottles to be recycled are not only cleaned without caps and labels but also are being attached without having leftovers in bottles. Mitsubishi established recycle PET bottles business in Thailand collaborating with Taiwanese company which have long relationship. I think it a good example which solved environmental issue utilizing strength of SHOSHA (trading company). Furthermore, they established another business in Japan using the same approach.
What I am concerned now is “Energy” which is used for operation of factories. It gets nothing if factories use electricity discharging CO2 for “ECO”. In 2020 Mitsubishi Corporation purchased a company which is developing integrated energy business in Europe together with CHUBU Electric Company. Mitsubishi and CHUBU Electric Co. are trying to build business model of electricity in carbon-free society towards next generation. In Europe, offshore wind power generator which utilize their shallow beach topology is more advanced than Japan and they are undertaking new business of small sized solar photovoltaics near consumption areas.
If Japan can introduce the business of production and consumption of energy, they would suppress carbon emissions in Japan to some extent.
Do SHOSHA undertake environmental issue multidirectionally? The answer is “No!”.
ORIX Corporation, known as financial services industry, is focusing on renewable energy business. The great point of ORIX is their monitoring power as a group. ORIX group has emitted 1.3million tons of CO2 in domestic as of March end, 2020. On the other hand, they decreased 3million tons of CO2 emission through their global renewable energy business. Main breakdown of their renewable source of energy are wind power, geothermal and solar power. Especially in solar power generation they established hundreds of large-scaled solar power stations and mega-solar plants in Japan. They invested in wind power and geothermal plants in Europe, the North America and Asia too.
I admire not only those two companies but other Japanese companies also for their management which they are conscious of carbon-free society. They are combining other business within their companies successfully. What I was impressed with is they exploited foreign companies which preceded in renewable source of energy and collaborated with them as partnership. They developed new technology for offshore wind power generation which is unsuited for deep sea in Japan basing on such knowledge. They installed windmill being floated on the sea. They did not deplore topography in Japan. It was “great”.
It was very interesting to watch undertakings of Japanese companies one by one. And it became distinct what we can do.
Anyway, I swear here that when I empty the contains, I peel off a label from PET-bottle first and throw away in trash cans. As to cap and bottle, I segregate them and throw away to recycle box.
XIE Zhihai / Associate Professor, Kyoai Gakuen University
Translated by Kazuo Kawamura
English checked by Sabina Koirala