Using Japanese technology to cope with global warming

Measures against global warming can be divided into two categories: mitigation and adaptation. Mitigation means curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Adaptation means preparing to cope with higher temperatures.

Some companies in Europe and the United States are now selling adaptation measures. And the industry is starting to take root in Japan, too, as companies see business opportunities in helping developing countries deal with the impact of climate change.

A turbine for typhoon regions

The start-up firm Challenergy has developed a wind turbine that doesn't just withstand the impact of a typhoon -- it harnesses the storm's energy to produce electricity. The company is preparing to send one to the Philippines.

Challenergy CEO Atsushi Shimizu was motivated by the 2011 nuclear accident in Fukushima Prefecture. The disaster made him realize how important renewable energy is, and prompted the electrical engineer to start working on wind power.

Traditional turbines with propellers can be damaged if the winds are too strong. Shimizu's idea was to create a rotating vertical axis that can withstand the wind no matter the strength or direction. His firm spent millions of dollars testing the generator in Okinawa.

Shimizu has been receiving inquiries mainly from countries in Asia.

"We see all countries that are prone to typhoons and hurricanes and have remote islands plagued by power shortages as promising markets."

Providing safe water

Another Japanese company is looking to tackle problems in India. AGC makes glass and chemical products. One of its products is a membrane that has a variety of functions, including removing salt from seawater and taking out harmful substances from industrial wastewater.

The company thought the technology could also be used to turn polluted groundwater into clean water for drinking and agriculture in India, where droughts often lead to shortages. The company has been working with an Indian firm to adapt and test it for the last two years.

A spokesperson says they expect climate adaptation businesses to grow in importance as natural disasters become more and more intense due to climate change.

Controlling the spread of disease

Experts fear that one deadly consequence of global warming will be a rise in Malaria, as rising temperatures expand mosquito habitats. In Zambia, around one third of the population is infected with the disease each year.

Japan's Kansai Paint is taking aim at the walls and ceilings where mosquitos like to rest. The company has developed a paint containing insecticide, which attacks the insects' nervous systems.

In 2017, the firm worked with the Japan International Cooperation Agency to paint about 400 private homes in Zambia, and they confirmed the effectiveness of the product. Schools and hospitals have started using the paint too. Locals say mosquitos no longer appear in buildings where the paint has been applied.

A massive market

Companies worldwide are seizing opportunities created by climate change. A German firm has developed crops tolerant to high temperatures. A Swiss business is studying techniques for coffee production in warm climates. The UN Environment Programme says the adaptation industry is expected to be worth up to 500 billion dollars a year by 2050.