Thinking Tech

Japan election could change direction of climate debate

Japan election could change direction of climate debate

Posting in Energy

It's possible that, despite business push back, Hatoyama could be starting a green technology arms race.

The key to combating climate change is changing market incentives from supporting the problem to supporting solutions.

Japan's highly-industrialized economy can lead the way in that, and it looks poised to do so following the election of Yukio Hatoyama and his Democratic Party of Japan. (Picture from CBS News.)

The new Prime Minister today reiterated his goal of cutting the country's greenhouse gas emissions by 25% in 10 years. His party has also been active in seeking better relations with China. He may visit China as early as next month.

It's possible that, despite business push back, Hatoyama could be starting a green technology arms race.

The big problem for green advocates has been the focus on climate change as a problem. There is fear of losing markets, and fear of higher prices.

As a result, American green policy is going nowhere and the odds of a new treaty to replace the current Kyoto accords look dim. Ministers will make one more attempt to nail down a deal in Copenhagen this December.

What Hatoyama sees instead is an opportunity. Combining Japanese technology with Chinese manufacturing can turn the former economy around and provide the latter economy new markets.

Australia is already re-evaluating its position regarding carbon targets following the Hatoyama election. Less developed nations are pushing for a deal, while America seems too preoccupied with health care to be effective.

Instead of talking about rising oceans, dying polar bears and a spirit of sacrifice, maybe it's time we identified a growing green technology gap to keep Japan and China from stealing the future together.

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Dana Blankenhorn

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Dana Blankenhorn has written for the Chicago Tribune, Advertising Age's "NetMarketing" supplement and founded the Interactive Age Daily for CMP Media. He holds degrees from Rice and Northwestern universities. He is based in Atlanta. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure