The background and Aims of Formulating the Keidanren
Prior to the convening of the Earth Summit in 1991, Keidanren formulated and adopted the "Keidanren Global Environmental Charter," in which it explicitly expressed as a fundamental philosophy its awareness that "endeavoring to deal with environmental problems is an essential condition for corporate existence and activities." It then declared its intentions to pursue voluntary and active efforts in behalf of environmental conservation.
In 1996, in order to give concrete expression to the basic philosophy of its Global Environment Charter, it announced the "Keidanren Appeal on the Environment," in which declared its intention to develop and adopt voluntary action plans that would become a means of promoting effective action by the industrial community on global warming.
Following up on this appeal, Keidanren in 1997 produced the "Keidanren Voluntary Action Plan on the Environment," a program in which 43 industries currently participate and through which Keidanren deals vigorously with the problems of global warming and waste. Regarding global warming, Keidanren has adopted as a common goal the following: "to endeavor to reduce CO2 emissions from the industrial and energy-converting sectors in fiscal 2010 to below the levels of fiscal 1990." Today 34 industries in the industrial and energy-converting sectors are endeavoring to achieve this goal. In comparison with its counterparts in Europe and America, Japan's industrial community has already achieved a high rate of energy efficiency. And, when viewed from the standpoint of 20 years of economic expansion, the goal for 2010 is clearly an extremely challenging and ambitious one. In fact, on a business-as-usual basis, we project that emissions in fiscal 2010 will rise by 10 percent compared to levels in fiscal 1990.
Environmental problems such as global warming, which are long-term and arise on a global scale, derive from every kind of business activity and touch on every aspect of our lives. Consequently their nature is such that it is impossible to place blanket restrictions on activities, or to deal adequately with problems through conventional regulatory approaches. Rather than traditional regulatory measures, which were used effectively against pollution and other problems in the 1970s, the most promising way to deal with such global-sized issues is through voluntary efforts, which are effective because they permit persons with the greatest knowledge of their own businesses to propose and execute measures that are highly effective from a cost-benefit standpoint, and allows them to do so independently, based on comprehensive considerations of technical trends and other management-related matters.
In addition, Keidanren carries out Follow-up surveys each year on the progress being made under the respective voluntary action plans. It also releases the results of these surveys to a wide range of the general public via the Internet and other media. In other words, the Keidanren Voluntary Action Plan encourages continual improvement, and is structured to spot and prevent potential failures to reach goals beforehand, through a four-step process that gets repeated every year, to wit: (1) establishment of goals; (2) identification of measures to achieve goals; (3) periodic follow-up on the progress being made through these measures; and (4) the public release of results of follow-ups through the Internet and other media.
The Follow-up surveys were also identified as a crucial part of the national government's "Basic Principles for the Promotion of Measures Dealing with Global Warming," which were announced in June 1998. The progress reported by each industry in its voluntary action plans is reviewed annually by committees composed of prominent academics, members of NGOs, et al., which have been set up under related government councils. Moreover, Keidanren reports the results of Follow-up surveys to joint meetings of councils that have been established to review domestic proposals aimed at dealing with the problem of global warming.
While continuing to call upon participating industries to remain committed to carrying out measures designed to achieve their goals, Keidanren will also strive to attain the common goal established for industry as a whole, namely "to endeavor to reduce CO2 emissions from the industrial and energy-converting sectors in fiscal 2010 to below the levels of fiscal 1990." It will also endeavor to enhance the effectiveness of the voluntary action plans, by expanding the number of participating industries and analyzing factors bearing on changes in CO2 emissions.
In 1997, in formulating its Voluntary Action Plan on the Environment, Keidanren also identified measures on waste as an integral part of the plan, and urged industry to establish goals and to promote voluntary efforts to deal with the problem. In order to strengthen this voluntary framework, it declared in 1999 that industry as a whole would adopt a common goal for waste reduction, which it expressed as follows: "Industry as a whole adopts as its goal for final disposal of industrial waste in fiscal 2010 the target of 15 million tons (25% of the amount in fiscal 1990)." Toward this end, Keidanren will be conducting annual follow-up surveys that monitor the progress of each industry.