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Background of global environmental issues and issues to be resolved by 2050

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Focusing on 2050

The Industrial Revolution from the 18th to 19th centuries, heralded a period of rapid advancement in human history. As if in synchronization with this evolution, the global population also rocketed, while after the end of World War II, the global economy gained yet more momentum. Although the unstable supply and soaring prices of oil invited economic turmoil in the 1970s, the global economy has been steadily expanding since the end of that period. From the beginning of the 1990s, computer technologies have rapidly developed, and have now pervaded every facet of our society and become essential devices for our daily lives. When the internet emerged, which shortens the distance between any locations, this drastically changed our lifestyles, which have continued advancing on a daily basis every since. It took forty years for the world population to double and twenty years for the world GDP to double, while the population of internet users has doubled, at a staggering rate, after no more than several years.

On the other hand, we understand that global environmental issues with growing criticality have some major characteristics. One of these is the fact that it takes considerable time from the start of an initiative to its purpose being achieved. For example, although ozone layer depletion was discovered more than twenty years ago and actions have been taken to resolve this problem, its impacts still remain in the form of ozone holes and the resolution of this issue is said to remain several decades away.

As suggested by the fact that our choice of power generation methods represents one of the important measures for mitigation of climate change, the way in which we construct the current social infrastructure is important as a measure for the future. In this respect, we place commitment to the environment as our crucial responsibility for the future of our children. Based on these insights, we decided to envisage an ideal situation for our planet in 2050.

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People leading rich lifestyles in harmony with the Earth

What world we should envision? We believe, in that world, that not only global environmental issues including climate change will be resolved, but also that all people should lead rich lifestyles. We defined these images in the Environmental Vision 2050, which targets the ideal situation of “People leading rich lifestyles in harmony with the Earth.” In order to support all three parties, namely developed, emerging and developing countries, and the ever-increasing number of people leading rich lifestyles, we shall set goals for 2050 and based on these, develop action plans which must be attained in specific phases to ensure the progress of these environmental initiatives. These responsibilities represent no more or less than the role to be fulfilled by our company, which promotes environmental management as a corporate citizen of planet Earth.

Background of global environmental issues and issues to be resolved by 2050
[Image] graph of Background of global environmental issues and issues to be resolved by 2050

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Setting goals using Factor (degree of improvement of eco-efficiency)

Can't we measure environmental impacts with an indicator which evaluates environmental impacts reduction and the creation of enriched value? Forecasting the 2050 status from now and estimating the global level impact such as climate change is very difficult. However, we believe that setting goals, even based on uncertain factors, is very significant.

[Image]figure of Setting goals using Factor (degree of improvement of eco-efficiency)

For these goal settings, we use “Factor,” an indicator framework with which we can measure the degree of improvement of eco-efficiency with the combined index of environmental impacts mitigation and creation of enriched value. For example, if the environmental impacts reduction doubles (the environmental impacts are reduced by half), the Factor is set to “2,” and if the created value doubles, the Factor is also set to “2.” If both are achieved at the same time, the Factor becomes 2×2=4.

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Creating enriched values while minimizing environmental impacts

The global population has expanded 2.4 fold in the past fifty years. Greenhouse gases generated from our activities have also significantly increased, which has accelerated the climate change problem. Furthermore, the global population has been rocketing ever-higher, and is set to reach around nine billion by some estimates in 2050, representing a population 1.5 times larger than that in 2000. As the activities of the growing population increase, the environmental impacts of related activities will follow suit.

On the other hand, we can further enrich our lives. There are problems of disparities, even in supposedly developed countries, and we also hope to provide enriched lifestyles to emerging and developing countries as well. To achieve these purposes, we should create and improve much more richness and values.

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