Sunday, October 25, 2009

My Carbon Debate on Japanese National NHK TV

I woke up at 430am this morning to participate in this debate on Japan's efforts to reduce its CO2 emissions. I'm glad I did it. The other NHK panelists were smart. The challenge is that I do not speak Japanese so the translator was constantly taking my words and translating them so there was a delay. I had to look at myself on the TV monitor and that was a scary sight. There was also a slight delay in transmission so when I moved in real life, I moved slightly on the tv screen 1 second later. This took some getting used to. I also learned that my mother is right. When I'm normally listening to a person , I have a slight scowl on my face and this looks like I'm in a bad news. To counter this, I forced myself to half smile while the other panelists were speaking. This (costly) action made me look like a "normal" person.

In terms of substance, the conservatives in Japan's government have estimated that this carbon mitigation legislation will be very costly in the short run. While I agree that carbon legislation is not a free lunch, I argued that the CGE models that estimate precise numbers for how households will fare in the face of carbon legislation should not be taken very seriously.

I pushed the panel on whether Japan could meet its co2 reduction mandate by ramping up nuclear production of electricity and lower reliance on oil and coal in generating power. The panel agreed but said that the Japanese public fears "too much" nuclear power. So this sounds like a nimby issue.

We talked about a number of relevant issues. I argued that the success of the Toyota Prius as an export product highlights that in the face of globalization, japan could help its economy in the medium to long term with this green push if this pushes green innovation that yields future export products.