Reports/Opinions

Low carbon society?

Posted by Atsushi Iwai October 7, 2015 senior managing director, Japan Petrochemical Industry Association
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Many speakers have used the wording " low carbon society" in the plenary session in this morning, including Vice Minister of METI.

Total amount of carbon on the earth is fixed. Carbon exists in CO2 in the air and the sea, in carbohydrates of plants and animals, and in hydrocarbon of fossil fuels. As it circulates between different forms, carbon plays an important role in maintaining the balance of the earth's ecosystem.

In order to overcome various challenges for the human and the earth, we should not reduce the amount of carbon but preserve the natural cycle on absorption and emission of CO2 in balance.

Therefore I would propose the wording ot " circulation of carbon", "carbon circulation society" or simply "sustainable carbon society"

Please refer to https://www.jpca.or.jp/english/leaflet_carbonchemistry_e.pdf

 

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Atsushi Iwai senior managing director, Japan Petrochemical Industry Association October 21, 2015 at 2:26 PM

David, thank you for your valuable comment. I agree that politicians love the simple wording and people understand what it immplies. But I do not like that carbon is seen as bad substance and it should be kept away, because our industry work with carbon from which a lot of useful high value products are produced. So, how about the wording of "new carbon society", instead of "low carbon society"?

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David Cope 8.Professor, Clare Hall, University of Cambridge October 13, 2015 at 12:35 PM

Of course, overall, you are right about the fixed quantity of C on earth, although I guess an absolutely trivial amount accretes from incoming methane-bearing space material. And, you're also right about carbon cycle balances, of course. But, I'm afraid that politicians (and others)love their soundbites! A "low carbon society" is widely used - and I guess most people understand what it implies. I think only your suggestion of a "sustainable carbon society" could possibly substitute - but "sustainable" is such a vague and overused epithet that I think it better to stick with "low carbon society".

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