Next week the leaders of the developed world will meet at a resort in northern Japan for this year's G8 summit. With oil prices topping the agenda, Japan—by most measures, the most energy-frugal developed nation on earth—is hoping to use the international platform to promote its energy conservation program. As the New York Times reports, the meeting offers Japan a rare opportunity to take the lead on one of the world's most pressing issues.
Japan invested in expensive, high-tech alternative energy solutions during the crises of the 1970s—and kept it up when the cost of oil dropped. Now, for every dollar's worth of economic activity, Japan consumes only half the energy of the US or the EU. "Japan taught itself decades ago how to compete with gasoline at $4 per gallon," said one researcher.