Asia Scope

The Bangkok Climate Change meet starts in Thailand today

The Bangkok Climate Change meet starts in Thailand today, with the two weeks of talks aimed at thrashing out some sort of agreement for a deal to take to the Copenhagen summit in December.

In Japan, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has been both applauded and scolded for his headline-grabbing pledge that Japan will slash its emissions by 25 percent on 1990 levels by 2020. But on balance, he probably did the right thing. Hatoyama has upset some business leaders (and the conservative daily The Yomiuri Shimbun) because he didn’t wait for ‘consensus’ on the issue. But this kind of consensus seeking is too often used as an excuse for delay and inaction. And with many already gloomy about the prospects for a deal this year, the talks needed some kind of boost if they’re to have even the faintest hope succeeding.

Anyway, by pushing Japan in this direction, Hatoyama can help steer his country further down a path it is already strong on – energy-saving and eco-friendly technologies. This could not only be a boon for Japanese firms domestically, but also make Japanese firms the go-to place for other big emitters looking for know-how. Japanese firms can use these ties to get a foothold in overseas markets, and working closely with the developing nations that are set to be the big(ger) emitters of tomorrow – notably China and India – can’t do its diplomatic efforts any harm either.

It’s quite refreshing to see a Japanese leader actually do some leading.