[Special Contribution]

Adaptation to Climate Change Impacts and Future Challenges – Japan’s Approach

August 2014
1. Current Situation and Measures Taken by Japan

The general meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was held for the first time in Japan in March 2014, adopted the contribution from Working Group II to the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report entitled, “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability.” The report detailed the impacts of climate change on natural ecosystems and human society, and demonstrated the increasing necessity for adaptation to the impacts from climate change. Adaptation has also been taken up as a major topic by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and measures are also being advocated to address the impacts of climate change in each country, such as by the formulation of adaptation plans in the United Kingdom, Germany and the Republic of Korea.

Given this situation, and ahead of Japan formulating its own adaptation plan in the summer of 2015, the Expert Committee on Climate Change Impact Assessment of the Global Environmental Subcommittee, Central Environmental Council, was established in July 2013. This March, an interim report on the impacts of climate change in Japan and future issues was drawn up, and progress is being made on examination of adaptation measures in various sectors by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

2. Future Actions & Challenges

With the assured implementation of the national adaptation plan next summer by the entire Japanese government, three points are being taken into account as major elements: development to local areas, expansion to private companies, and international support.

Since the impacts from climate change can differ according to climate, geographical features and culture, local measures are a compelling element in the implementation of adaptation measures when expanding the plan to local areas. To date, monitoring, collection and coordination of local measures have been carried out in Nagano, Saitama and at the Kyushu Regional Environmental Office. With the further advancement of these measures, the formulation of adaptation plans in local areas has also become significant. Therefore, as we are able to systematically gain an understanding of the risks from climate change, we can also examine measures for local areas that can persevere in the face of the impacts from climate.

The private sector must look at climate change impacts in terms of changes in competiveness in the natural and social environment such as globalization, and Japan’s decreasing and ageing population, as companies conduct business in the mid and long-term. While there are risks involved, this could also be seen as a good opportunity. It is surely important to first of all examine and analyse the impacts of these changes, and then reflect them into mid and long-term business plans.

Lastly, with regard to international support, the systems and human resources necessary for the implementation of adaptation measures are inadequate in developing countries while they are vulnerable to the impacts from climate change. Support must be advocated which integrates adaptation systems, technologies, scientific knowledge, and development of human resources. It is important for Japan, as well, to also promote such support. Over the years, IGES has been implementing this type of support measures, and is expected to continue these efforts in the future.

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