Japan sets ambitious new climate target to be carbon neutral by 2050


Japan’s new prime minister said on Monday the country would seek to become carbon neutral by 2050, a move that will require huge shifts in its fossil fuel-rich energy mix to succeed.

Why is this important: Japan is the world’s fifth largest source of carbon emissions. The new goal announced by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is stronger than the country’s previous goal of becoming carbon neutral as soon as possible in the second half of the century.

Data: IEA;  Graphic: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
Data: OUCH; Graphic: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Driving the news: “The response to climate change is no longer a constraint to economic growth,” the prime minister told the national parliament on Monday. according to the Washington Post.

  • “We need to change our thinking to see that taking strong action on climate change will lead to changes in industrial structure and the economy that will lead to strong growth.”

The big picture: A growing number of countries are making commitments in line with what scientists say is necessary to meet the Paris climate agreement’s goals to limit temperature rise.

  • Japan’s pledge comes a month after China – by far the world’s biggest emitter of greenhouse gases – pledged to be carbon neutral by 2060.
  • European Union officials are working to deliver on their pledge to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
  • Joe Biden’s platform calls for the United States, the second-largest emitter after China, to also achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Yes, but: These long-term commitments will require massive policy changes – plans that for now are often loosely articulated – to turn them into deep emissions cuts.

  • Helen Mountford of the World Resources Institute applauded Suga’s pledge, but added:For Japan to demonstrate that it takes this net-zero emissions commitment seriously, the country must also set a much bolder emissions reduction target for 2030 than the surprisingly weak plan it presented earlier this year. “
  • And the New York Times pointed out that Japan is currently still investing in coal-fired electricity. According to the Times, Japan has “planned or is in the process of building 17 new coal-fired power plants”.

And after, by Bloomberg: “Concrete targets to promote hydrogen, battery storage, carbon recycling and wind energy will be identified in a report to be released by the end of the year,” the Minister of Energy told reporters on Monday. Economy, Trade and Industry, Hiroshi Kajiyama”.


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