I would like to propose a few changes that could potentially aid the current Japanese climate and environment. As part of the Ministry of the Environment, I will cover some theory behind why my suggested changes could work as well as how they can be implemented into society. I will look at personality types and how that can affect people’s attitudes towards the environment and how they can each help in a variety of ways. Also, the current environmental issues at hand and how we can tackle them with possible solutions. Lastly, my thoughts on the current climate and some more insight on the future of the planet.
Firstly, it’s important to look at how we can implement these changes. In my research, I’ve found that in order to input change and therefore create a better mindset and environment, there are three major points based on social influence that push change to occur. Firstly, social influence, social identity, and lastly social desirability. These are factors in which different personalities react to the issue of climate change and bettering the planet. Your personality and mentality greatly affects how you respond to global issues and how influenced your actions may be. I’ll explore each of them by means of character.
Firstly, social influence is a major factor which greatly affect this issue as Japan is known to be a collective society, so change only often happens if the majority do. A paper by Abrahamse and Matthies (2012) explores the ways in which social influence can impact environmental changes. Over the past four decades, environmental and social psychologists have researched how behavioral change affects attitudes towards global issues and climate change. Their research has demonstrated that by changing attitudes and thoughts about the environment as a society can create a wave of influence and in turn Japanese society can become influential to other developing countries to help take steps towards achieving a cleaner world.
Social identity references the social impact on people’s sense of identification in regard to members of a society. Such as, customers are further prone to immerse in sustainable behaviour if others are engaging in it too. Furthermore, a trait of social identity is to feel positive in regard to their group. In doing so, they wish to participate and increase the group’s sustainable behaviour for a better result of the group’s action and reward.
Lastly, social appeal leads people to want to leave a lasting impression on others for their own benefit and are more likely to act in a socially advantageous demeanor. In regard to becoming environmentally friendly, practicing sustainable behaviour requires more of a commitment. Different identities will respond and react to the environmental climate change and helping in various ways. Depending on the character, opting for one time use actions for example, shorter showers will be more beneficial with a fast paced or busy lifestyle, whereas someone with a more eager and environmentally driven lifestyle may opt to change their habits overtime as many common practices are unsustainable such as food consumption, choice of transport, shopping, and more (White, et al. (2019).
Each option and the way to help the environment based on your social influence type can greatly affect how much or how little you can contribute to society in aiding climate change and creating a better world for the future. As well, mediations to advance climate change can be split into two: informational strategies and structural strategies. Informational is focused on spreading awareness and reactions to issues at hand whilst structural is focused on presenting facts and bettering situations where choices are affected, for example, the arrangement of recycling provisions.
It’s important to recognise the impact Japan has already had on pollution impact across Asia. For example, just in August of 2019, the city of Kitakyushu has implemented more than 192 waste treatment and air pollution control in 78 cities across 16 countries and is now on its way to help tackle one of the biggest problems in Southeast Asia, plastic pollution (UN Environment, 2019). Although, despite the good, one of Japan’s major issues to tackle is plastic pollution.
Regarding finding a solution that respects cultural values, Japan’s appreciation for nature and minimalistic practices, the G20 summit saw Japan very optimistic in raising and tackling the issue, however with the United States backing down for the third time in a row, this has caused more criticism leaving world leaders, organisations and more disappointed. The withdrawal leaves a big divide in climate assistance that developed countries had promised to developing countries.
AP Photo/Koji Sasahara
Another of Japan’s current issues is nuclear power plants. The Fukushima accident caused many to greatly oppose the use of nuclear energy, and the new environment minister, Shinjiro Koizuma agrees. He called for the country’s nuclear reactors to be demolished to prevent a repeat of another nuclear disaster. In turn, he faced immediate challenges of others saying to get rid of nuclear energy is impractical.
However, the positives that came from the Paris accord included Japan revealing a long-term plan of action to take significant steps towards improving climate change. Abe made reference to Japanese history and culture to modern approaches regarding climate change and wishes for the future to bring more clear-cut administration (Silverberg and Smith, 2019).
Japan’s exposure to natural disasters just adds to the list of reasons to push green behaviours. Now that green innovations are almost being treated as a business opportunity, I would like to focus on greatly improving the issue of plastic waste as it’s one of Japan’s biggest issues in the current climate. With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics approaching, now is a good idea to begin implementing some minor rules that could vastly impact the population, among with the tourism and visitors the Olympics brings to Japan, too. Firstly, implementing paper straws would encourage visitors and locals alike to think about these small changes that can bring great impacts. Japan has also stated the Tokyo Olympics medals will be crafted from recycled material. An article by Business Insider reports that Japan has recycled almost 80,000 tons of electronics to aid the environment and encourage citizens to also reduce, recycle and reuse (Villas-Boas, 2019).
Though the ban on plastic imports affected many countries, it also caused an awakening in realisation for the countries who relied on China to deal with their waste. It brought a wave of independent thinking and researching to realise just how much the air pollution is an issue when you’re left to deal with it by yourself, instead. Roland Geyer of the University of California also revealed that nearly half og all plastic ever manufactured has been made since 2000 (Geyer, et al. 2017).
I also believe that making recycling simpler and easier to implement would help greatly. Currently, Japan uses plastic colour-coded crates, which are far and few between. According to Forbes Japan, Japan recycles 84% of its plastic collected. Although, only 23% is recycled materially, with 4% recycled chemically (Brasor, 2019).
Hydrogen power is a great alternative resource for Japan. In order to slowly eliminate use of fossil fuels and reduce global warming, however, South Korea is leading the way by planning to build 3 hydrogen-powered cities for 2022. This move would be immensely beneficial to Japan, since it’s viable as both a primary source and as a carrier of energy. Abe stated he envisions the production cost of hydrogen will drop by 90% by 2050, in order to make it cheaper than gas. (Harding, 2019). If done correctly, hydrogen can eventually fund an entirely decarbonised Japan.
Air pollution is still a vital issue across many Asian countries, causing breathing difficulties, health complications and eye sores. Younger generations are growing up hardly seeing visible blue skies, with no choice to breathe in the air caused by years of mistreatment of the earth and its atmosphere. China and India appear to house the most polluted cities in Asia, which transfers to neighbouring countries. Therefore, it isn’t just their own country affected, but surrounding countries that also have to suffer the consequences of this. Many countries in Asia would send their waste to China to be dealt with, until China’s recent ban on plastic imports to help reduce the air pollution issue (McNaughton and Nowakowski, 2019).
As an issue of over 20 years across Asia, it has caused even death. The UN Environment states that if the same pace of action is continued until 2030, Asia would still face the same climate and air quality as today (SEI, 2018).
Therefore, in regards to air pollution reduction, I propose that measures are implicated across Asia to increase air quality widely, not just in one country. It should be implicated where possible and appropriate, including locations such as industrial sites and power plants. This way, it tackles the issue across Asia and not just in a small or precise area, to better improve the quality of air across all of Asia and everyone can live without worries of health impacted by bad air quality.
Another solution to combat air pollution is to look at issues that are affecting other types of pollution in order to combat multiple issues at once. For example, implementing measures that focus on turning to renewable energy sources such as hydrogen power, increasing the number of electric vehicles on the road as well as making better energy usage in the home. These solutions will not only combat outdoor air pollution, but it also affects climate change combating, greatly reduces the rate at which global warming is occurring, in turn aiding the reduction of the planet’s temperature.
It’s estimated that it will cost extra to induce these lifestyle and environment changes, however the effects outweigh the cost. UN Environment also states that it wouldn’t be noticeable, since it isn’t much more than the world already spends on energy usage nowadays. It’s better to make the change sooner and benefit from a healthier planet now then wait until we find a much less costly procedure. With this method, air pollution can be averted or at least massively cut down and we can begin seeing more outdoor activities, events and more blue skies appearing. It will encourage people to get outside more and enjoy life, instead of worrying about the woes and their health that would be affected from breathing in the toxic air they live in.
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