当会会長の小宮山 宏が 「Science and Technology in Society（STS）フォーラム2014 第11回年次総会」〔期間：2014年10月5日～7日、場所：京都〕に参加しました。
この中で、10月5日の「Population & Resources」をテーマとしたセッションで、スピーチを行いました。プラチナ社会におけるエネルギーと物質に関する基本コンセプトが集約されています。
For example, just as the number of cars owned is saturated when there is one car for every two people, man-made artifacts per person will become saturated. This saturation of artifacts is not hypothetical, but the reality in most developed countries. The quantity of artifacts under saturation is proportional to population and governs the maximum quantity needed by human beings. Under the unavoidable condition of saturation on Earth at some point in human history, if energy efficiency is improved greatly and the recycling of resources is realized, use of resources including energy and raw materials will become sustainable. We can achieve this. This is the hope of humanity on the issue of population and resources in the context of sustainable development.
At the STS last year, how population will become stabilized was discussed. Eradication of poverty was stressed to be the most important, in particular with respect to the people at the so-called “bottom of the pyramid.” The most effective means to eradicate poverty is to realize economic growth for creating new businesses and jobs.
On the one hand, we face the issue of a finite Earth and resources. Consequently, we should focus on the notion that innovation for improving resource efficiency is necessary to stabilize population through economic growth. We can do this.
I have long been arguing that the energy efficiency in producing things and providing services can be improved by a factor of three, on average in 2050. Therefore, the consumption of crude resources in the developed countries, where the saturation of population and artifacts has already been approached, can be decreased to one third, only by efficiency improvement.
Two weeks ago, at the forum on new climate economy held at the British Embassy in Tokyo, the Swedish Ambassador stated that in 2050 the greenhouse gas emissions from Sweden will become zero. This target declaration follows that of Denmark, which has for some time had the goal of meeting all its energy needs with renewable energy by 2050. It is fascinating, but not surprising at all, because Sweden and Denmark are well-developed countries rich in renewable energy resources. Even Japan will be able to decrease greenhouse gas emissions to one third the present level, or even less. The population accounted for by the present developed countries will be much less than 10% in 2050, so their contribution to the world’s total emissions will be small. In spite of this fact, they have to do this. It is their duty toward humanity.
On the other hand, developing countries should not trace the route which was taken by the developed countries in the 20th century. Growth is their right, but efficiency is their duty. Historically, resource efficiency was low and often pollutants were emitted heavily. But more efficient and environmentally friendly technology has already been developed and can be improved to a great extent from now on. Therefore, developing countries will be able to realize economic growth with high resource efficiency and little emission of pollutants. This is the hope.
To do so, however, we need innovation in business and society as well as in technology of energy efficiency improvement and materials recycling. Developed and developing countries should work cooperatively and synergistically to realize innovation. In this context, I have high expectations of the various efforts to solve social issues in capitalism, including social impact investment being emphasized right now.
Namely, we need innovation to reduce the resource consumption in the developed countries drastically and to eradicate poverty by economic growth without significant increase in the consumption of resources in the developing countries.
In summary, controlled saturation of population on Earth in tandem with a trend of tremendous improvement in energy efficiency and well-developed recycling technology for used resources itself should stem the snowballing consumption of natural resources and relieve us to a great extent from resource limits. This is the hope of humanity. STS’s role should be to disseminate this hope to society. If people share this hope, realization of innovation will be easier. Also, we should add one point to the 17 SDGs as presented in the Chairman’s challenge: that global population under saturation should be controlled, and that there is a hope we can achieve this.