Japan backed the United States last month during the United Nations-led talks in Bali, opposing the European Union proposal for cutting emissions by 2012. Japan however has helped redeem itself by pledging $10 billion over 5 years to help developing countries reduce carbon emissions.
The “Cool Earth Partnership” fund pledges $8 billion in assistance and $2 billion in grants, aid, and public assistance for clean energy. Dispersal of funds will begin this year and is set to expire in 2012.
The Prime Minister of Japan, Yasuo Fukuda also serves as the chairmen of the July G8 summit. This announcement seems to indicate that climate change will be a major issue for the upcoming summit.
Japan has struggled to decrease emission to meet its Kyoto Protocol goals. Some aggressive actions have been taken, such as a recent initiative for 30% of Japanese homes to have solar energy systems by 2030.
The actions taken by Japan highlight the lack of action being taken in the United States. The Japanese enjoy a high standard of living, yet the average person generates half the carbon dioxide emissions compared to the average American.
The United States never ratified the Kyoto Protocol and the EPA may even stop California from having stricter vehicle emissions standards. While Germany and Japan have world-class government incentives for solar energy, a tax credit in the United States that encourages solar and wind energy is set to expire in 2008.
The good news is that considerable support in the United States for clean technology has been emerging from the private sector through investments in clean technology. In 2007, several renewable energy mutual funds and exchange traded funds were created, providing simple opportunities for investing in clean energy.