He came to Davos for one day to announce the agenda. They expected him to concentrate on measures to stabilize the world economy rather than climate. There were reasons for the suspected change - for several weeks running, world financial organizations reported record losses, and the crisis reached its peak last week when all stock exchanges collapsed in a panic.
Speakers at Davos were pessimistic. The famous currency profiteer George Soros announced the end of the dollar as the global reserve currency. Distinguished economist Nouriel Roubini predicted a deep and prolonged recession in the U.S. economy, perhaps lasting as long as a year. He added that it would inevitably affect the world economy. In the end, Director-General of the International Monetary Fund Dominique Strauss-Kahn urged all countries to take serious monetary and fiscal measures in order to neutralize the threat of a recession in the U.S. economy. He even called on countries with budget deficits to increase their spending for this purpose. His appeal shows that once again the current situation is very dangerous for the global economy.
But these gloomy forecasts did not compel the Japanese government to adjust the agenda for the G8 summit. The audience in Davos burst into applause when Fukuda described Japan's intentions to implement the Cool Earth Partnership.
In looking for its name, Japanese government officials must have recalled the Japanese campaign Cool Biz. Since the summer of 2005, the Japanese Ministry of the Environment has been persuading the multi-million army of Japanese employees not to set the temperature of air conditioners below +28 C and not to follow too strictly the official dress code, i.e. to take off jackets, wear cotton trousers and short-sleeve shirts, and unbutton collars. In the ministry's estimate, Cool Biz helped reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Japan in the summer of 2005 by 460,000 tons (equal to what a million households produce in a month); in the summer of 2006 they went down by 1.14 million tons (the amount produced by 2.5 million households in a month).
The initiatives announced by the Japanese prime minister in Davos will not produce such an immediate effect. But their financial scale and the traditionally meticulous attitude of the Japanese toward the implementation of any project make it possible to hope for impressive results.
Fukuda made the following initiatives (in the order he announced them, not by their importance). Japan will establish a fund of $10 billion to counter global warming in developing nations in the next five years. Japan has also suggested setting up an international fund for the same purpose. Fukuda said that the United States and Britain have already agreed to this project, and other countries are welcome to do the same. Finally, Japan will invest $30 billion in a five-year program to enhance the energy effectiveness and environmental security of its own industry. It has urged the world to increase energy effectiveness by 30% by 2020.
Fukuda confirmed that global climate change would remain the overriding issue at the G8 summit. He emphasized that other items on the agenda - economic stability, assistance to the poorest countries, above all in Africa, and the struggle against terrorism - were no less important and also require urgent action.
This ranking of priorities shows that the world economic system has started to change. The need to overcome together the technological backwardness of poor countries in order to reduce harmful anthropogenic effects on nature is becoming more important than assistance to the "wounded giant" - the U.S. economy, no matter how serious its problems may be.
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.