Is Japan showing the right way to tackle global warming?


by Dr. Bjorn Lomborg

GLOBE-Net, November 18, 2013

UN Climate Summit should focus on green R&D, say Nobel Laureates.

Japan has acknowledged that its previous greenhouse gas reduction target of 25% below 1990 levels was unfeasible.  It has stated a more realistic estimate of its level of emissions is that it will increase some 3% by 2020. 

The government of Japan has opted for a different approach, namely investing in low carbon technologies.

“Japan’s decision could be a break-through for smarter climate policies”, says Dr. Bjorn Lomborg, adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School and director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center.  

“Japan has simply given up on the approach to climate policy that has failed for the past twenty years. Instead it has promised to spend $110 billion over five years for innovation in environmental and energy technologies.”

“As it turns out, green R&D is the smartest approach to tackle climate change, and it could particularly help poor countries that rely on cheap energy to power their growth. Japan could – incredible as it sounds – actually end up showing the world to how tackle global warming effectively”, Lomborg continues. 

“$100 billion per year invested worldwide in green R&D would be hundreds of times more effective than the standard climate policies proposed. This is the conclusion from a panel of economists, including three Nobel laureates, documented in the book “Smart Solutions to Climate Change” (

Lomborg points out that “despite all the international summits and the hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies to today’s hugely inefficient green technologies, CO2 emissions have increased some 57% since 1990. We need to look at a different approach instead of backing the same wrong horse over and over again. The economics show that the smartest long-term solution would be to focus on innovating green energy. This would push down the costs of future generations of wind, solar and many other amazing possibilities. Everyone would switch to green energy, not just a token number of well-meaning rich Westerners.”

“Instead of criticizing Japan for abandoning an approach that has repeatedly failed, we should applaud it for committing to a policy that could actually meet the challenge of global warming,” Lomborg concludes.

Dr. Bjorn Lomborg ( is director of the Copenhagen Consensus Center and one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world. Lomborg’s article “At last, a Plan B to stop global warming” was published in Britain’s The Times newspaper today:

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