Introduction: Enabling Asia to Stabilise the Climate
A Stable Climate Is a Common Asset for Humankind
The 5th Assessment Report (AR5) published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2013 and 2014 revealed that temperatures will continue to rise as long as anthropogenic greenhouse gases (GHGs) are emitted into the atmosphere, and that the climate will not stabilise unless GHG emissions can ultimately be brought down to zero. AR5 also warned that we are in a critical situation, and if we continue to emit the current amounts of GHG, there is only 30-year quantity of GHG that can be emitted if we want to prevent a temperature rise less than 2 o C from preindustrial levels.
A stable climate is a precious common asset for humankind. Local climates are incorporated into one comprehensive climate system at the earth's surface. Therefore, we cannot secure this common asset unless all countries take individual responsibility to deal with GHG emission reduction. Climate stabilisation is something that must be taken up by every country under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
A social transformation for climate stabilisation is the most significant worldwide challenge this century, and no country has experienced such a challenge before. We need to completely shift our social trend away from highly energydependent technology societies, a path that we have been on for 250 years since the Industrial Revolution, and turn our efforts in the direction of low-carbon societies within 50 years. Only then can we finally achieve zero-GHG-emission societies. There is not much time remaining to achieve this goal.
The Responsibilities and Role of Asia Are Vital
Asia has a very significant role and responsibilities for climate stabilisation. If Asia continues its current development in the form of highly energy-dependent societies, it is predicted that Asia will make up half the share of worldwide economic power, energy consumption, and carbon dioxide emissions in 2050. It is no longer possible for developing countries with their rapid economic growth to follow the path trod by developed countries to become highly energy-consuming technology societies. If the present infrastructure development and industrial investment follow the conventional pattern, developing countries in Asia will be locked in to a highcarbon-emission pathway for another half-century. Therefore, Asian countries themselves need to explore a path of development different from that followed by developed countries, and achieve leapfrogging to low-carbon societies.