Climate Change: New "Environmental Tax" In 2011

Japan's new government last year set up a ministerial committee to draw up legislation to deal with global warming. Today, the report was released, with an emphasize on total emissions volume control, and a new environmental tax for consumers to be introduced in 2011. Petrol will be included, just like in many European countries, as a way to reduce driving. I think that would be a very wise decision from the parliament, to start reducing people's high level dependency on cars. Peak oil and the very real prospect of not being able to properly feed everyone in this country if current trends continue are issues that need to be addressed too.

The government is seeking to enact the bill during the current session of the parliament.

Mainichi: Draft government emissions bill sidesteps caps on companies

The draft bill stipulates that greenhouse gas emissions be slashed by 25 percent by 2020 compared to 1990 levels, on condition that all the major industrialized nations establish a fair and effective international framework and agree on an ambitious goal. A long-term target of cutting emissions by 80 percent by 2050 was also incorporated into the bill.
Is the proposed legislation good enough? That should also be debated. Introducing a cap-and-trade system was discussed, but Japan's industries opposed the system. They think it would "restrict their business activities and hamper economic growth." That's not what has happened in countries where it has been introduced, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, Japan has just introduced a new eco-point system aimed at increasing sales of homes, energy-saving features and renovations while reducing Japan's greenhouse gas emissions, starting on March 8, 2010. We will be able to receive up to 300,000 yen ($3,320) worth of eco-points, which can be used for home renovation or retrofit efforts or exchanged for gift certificates or local specialties, such as rice, fruit and marine products. I wish they would include certified organic produce as well.

Asahi: Eco-point system starts for housing
...Makers of window panes and other materials that improve insulation are eagerly promoting their energy-saving wares, while housing companies are widening the options for renovation and construction work for which the points can be used.

Amid the hoopla, experts say the public should try to gain proper information on the type of insulation features that will work best with their homes. They warn that some features could wind up being disadvantageous, depending on the type of housing.

"(Consumers should) not get carried away by sweet sales talk," said an official at the Center for Housing Renovation and Dispute Settlement Support.

If an existing house is fitted with double-pane or special-glass windows that more effectively keep in heat, the owner can receive between 2,000 and 18,000 eco-points.

Points can also be earned by having walls, roofs and floors redone with building materials with insulation that meet government standards. Outer walls redone using designated materials will fetch 100,000 points, improved roofs and ceilings gain 30,000 points, and redone floors can provide 50,000 points.

Most new wooden houses built by major housing companies are already equipped with double-pane windows and insulated walls. Such buildings that clear the government standard can receive the maximum 300,000 points.

For ferroconcrete homes and condominiums built with materials that already have high insulation capabilities, the addition of such energy-conserving systems as solar power generators are a prerequisite for winning eco-points.

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