Working Paper

Climate Policy in the United States and Japan: A Workshop Summary

Apr 2, 2004 | William A. Pizer, Kentaro Tamura


Resources for the Future and the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (Japan) conveneda one-and-one-half day workshop on domestic and international climate policy on February 12–13, 2004in Washington, D.C. On the first day, 55 participants heard presentations from 14 speakers and discusseddomestic activities, economics, and politics. The second day featured a smaller group of 27 participantshearing six informal sets of comments and discussing opportunities for international collaboration.Participants included government officials from the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, the U.S.Environmental Protection Agency, and other U.S. administration and congressional staff; representativesfrom business and environmental groups; and academic experts. Over the course of both days, it was clearthat great opportunities exist for informing participants from both countries on recent developments,economic analyses, and political nuances in the other country. For example, American participants wereunaware of the Keidanren’s success at exceeding required efficiency standards. Japanese participantswere unaware of U.S. treaty tradition, by which ratification cannot occur until implementing legislation isin place—a fact that makes the Kyoto Protocol virtually unratifiable. Participants on both sides benefitedfrom a frank discussion of how and why it may be unwise for the international community to attempt tore-engage the United States in international climate policy until the United States settles on its own courseof meaningful domestic action.<Br><BR>Looking forward, an important lesson may be taken from U.S. experience with earlyenvironmental regulation, where state action provided experience and impetus for federal action. As analternative to the Kyoto model, distinct national actions may provide experience and impetus forinternational action. In addition, policies in both the United States and Japan reflect a strong emphasis ontechnology development and commercialization; this may be an area where bilateral cooperation could beparticularly beneficial.