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Research Areas & Themes ( 2017 ): Natural Resources, Energy & Environment

Development of a sustainable energy vision

Project Leader
Project Member(s)  ・ 
Research Objective Natural resources, energy and the environment remain important policy issues as the world faces major changes in the situation concerning global warming and energy supply and demand, driven by global events such as the advent of the Trump administration. A particularly urgent issue in this area is the construction of a sustainable energy system that can support the future economy and society. This project studies recent developments of such issues in Japan and abroad and conducts research and other activities in view of a future energy vision that seeks to resolve issues such as global warming and other environmental constraints, market instability arising from changing international situations, and tightening supply-demand balance due to geopolitical factors. Close attention will be paid to new possibilities created by innovation and how these issues will be shared in East Asia. Our study also encompasses nuclear technology, which has an advantage regarding the 3E principle including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Project Overview 1. Energy and environment seminar
We will organize lectures by leading experts in Japan and abroad to foster discussions that consider the world's latest developments and to deepen awareness.
2. Energy workshop for researchers and policymakers
In order to examine the issues such as the evidence-based policymaking and the social consensus formation that is the foundation for policies, we will invite Japanese and foreign researchers, especially young ones, regardless of their field of study or position, to organize workshops and seminars regularly and continue discussions from broad perspectives. This will help create an environment conducive to a "new combination" and provide an opportunity for researchers and policymakers to exchange opinions with each other and enhance their expertise.
3. Exchange of opinions with major Asian countries
Through workshops and other events, we will exchange views with and gather information from researchers and policymakers at universities, research institutes, government offices and international organizations in China and other major Asian countries.

Studies for creating an environment that accelerates innovation in long-term reduction of greenhouse gas emissions

Project Leader
Project Member(s)  ・ 
Research Objective Since international conferences of the IPCC are scheduled this year (Senior Research Fellow Sugiyama is selected as a lead author of the IPCC special report on the 1.5 degrees C Scenario that will be published in September 2018), government committees and study groups plan to organize many sessions to exchange views and information with researchers and stakeholders in Japan and abroad. Considering the situation, this project focuses on the following three objectives:
1) As part of social contributions, participate in IPCC activities as an expert to provide knowledge and to promote the comprehensive understanding of the global warming issue based on information obtained through such activities
2) Start deliberation on interdisciplinary strategy to address future energy and global warming issues by mainly focusing on measures to accelerate innovations in demand
3) Use a network of researchers and stakeholders built through IPCC activities for the development of a research exchange platform for Theme 1

* Relationship between this project and IPCC activities
The IPCC special report on the 1.5 degrees C Scenario will consider technologies to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees C, as well as associated costs and environmental impacts. This global warming mitigation scenario is significantly ambitious. Although the scenario itself is less than feasible, its development process is valued because it will analyze the role of innovation in achieving enormous emission reductions and involve comprehensive, leading-edge discussions on such issues as the role of nuclear power, scientific uncertainties associated with the global warming issue, uncertainties about the assessment of environmental impacts of global warming, and effective ways to design institutional arrangements. This may provide a valuable opportunity to apply a comprehensive approach to IPCC activities, or discussions on global warming issues, which tend to fall into sectionalism and emphasis on regulations. We will take advantage of IPCC discussions from this perspective.
Project Overview 1) We will attend IPCC meetings and provide reports to, exchange views and information with, and deepen discussions with researchers and stakeholders through the government's IPCC committees and symposia in Japan as well as gatherings such as the Energy and Environment Seminar.
2) The project regards energy and the fight against global warming as a single integrated issue. To address the issue, we will develop a strategy centering on the promotion and acceleration of innovation, and study ways to design domestic and international systems.
Although innovation is recognized as important in achieving enormous emission reductions in the fight against global warming, traditional innovation studies tend to rely on abstract discussions and have stopped short of substantially providing theoretical or realistic ideas and analyses regarding concrete policy measures to be implemented. This project takes an integrated approach to both energy issues and global warming and summarizes overall trends in innovation. As part of this effort, we will apply theories in science of complex systems to innovation of technologies to fight global warming, in particular, in order to elucidate how rapid advances in ICT contributes to resolving global warming issues.
With regard to the design of institutional arrangements, as the fight against global warming has been increasing the dependence on regulations, we will study how this trend may harm innovation. Based on the findings, we will examine and recommend how institutional arrangements should be designed in a manner that promotes innovation.

Legal analysis of the impact of the new regulatory standards for nuclear safety

Project Leader
Project Member(s)
Collaborator(s) Shinsuke TOYONAGA (Attorney at law)
Research Objective Today, the need is growing to analyze risks associated with the development of science and technology from legal perspectives (the topic commonly known as “science, technology and law”). There have been studies on the relationship between science & technology and law in the context of legal trials. However, few studies have focused on how the legal system should apply to the incorporation of science and technology into policies, and how the legal system should regulate risks associated with science and technology in a democratic society. In particular, our research focuses on the legal system for nuclear technology, with a focus on how to ensure safety, where nuclear technologies are characterized as being large in scale, and complex yet useful, while carrying a high risk to the public.
Our research will also include the following viewpoints and legal systems: (i) to ensure stable investments in the nuclear industry; (ii) to promote technology innovation; (iii) to meet international trends such as public awareness and advancement of legislative technique; (iv) to define who is responsible by calling for national debates on the use of nuclear energy; (v) to ensure efficiency through standardization and certification; and (vi) to identify nuclear regulation laws as a part of the legal framework for economy and energy. This will allow us to perform highly applicable research that goes beyond nuclear energy.
Project Overview This year, the project will analyze the relationship between nuclear safety and the nuclear damage compensation system from legal points of view. This will enable us to suggest how the Act on Compensation for Nuclear Damage should be revised appropriately. Specifically, we will study such issues as whether strict liability of nuclear operators under the new regulatory standards for nuclear safety reduces incentives for them to prevent accidents, whether it expands or shrinks the scope of legally sufficient cause, and how a system should be designed to determine who is responsible for an accident that has happened. Legal analysis will be added based on literature search and overseas surveys after studies on general theory of compensation for damages and Anglo-American law concerning negligence liability.
For these studies, the following events will be organized:
1) Workshops
To incorporate expert opinions effectively into out discussion and analysis, we will hold semiannual workshops in addition to discussions on intrinsic legal issues. In the last fiscal year, we organized workshops focusing on international trends and risks. In fiscal 2017, our workshops will adopt unconventional approaches: (1) economic analysis of nuclear damage compensation (especially at the final stage of unfounded rumors) and (2) analysis of legal frameworks to promote nuclear innovation.
2) Study group of experts
To incorporate opinions of technology and policy experts effectively into our studies, a study group of experts will meet once every month or two. During fiscal 2016, five study group sessions took place in nine months, along with an interview with experts in connection with the sessions.
3) Study meetings with companies
We have launched study meetings with companies in fiscal 2017 with three reactor manufacturers (Toshiba, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Hitachi) and two major utilities (Tokyo Electric Power and Kansai Electric Power), with the first session organized in May.
The purpose of these meetings is to share a broad spectrum of issues with reactor manufacturers concerning incentives to invest in nuclear projects and to deepen discussion to reexamine the protection of reactor manufacturers through concentrated liability from the viewpoint of preventing nuclear accidents.

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