Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions for fiscal year 2020 hit record high

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Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions hit an all-time high in fiscal 2020, rewriting the lows recorded in the previous two years, due to reduced economic activity amid the pandemic. of COVID-19 and the expansion of the use of renewable energy, the government announced on Friday.

National emissions in fiscal year 2020 totaled 1.15 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, down 5.1% from fiscal year 2019 for the seventh consecutive annual decline and the most low since comparable data became available in fiscal year 1990, the environment ministry said.

The ministry cited lower energy consumption caused by manufacturers’ reduced production and reduced passenger and cargo traffic amid the pandemic as factors contributing to reduced emissions, as well as improved energy conservation and the resumption of nuclear power plant operations.

“The time has come to further accelerate the introduction of renewable energy and a thorough implementation of energy saving measures in light of the situation in Ukraine and the current (energy) environment,” said Environment Minister Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi at a press conference.

Russia’s invasion of neighboring Ukraine, launched in late February, exposed the risks of resource-poor Japan’s dependence on energy imports from Moscow.

Emissions in the year to March 2021 marked an 18.4% decline from the level in fiscal 2013, which Japan is using as a baseline year to pursue a 46% reduction by then. fiscal year 2030. Japan had previously sought a 26% reduction from the base year.

By gas type, carbon dioxide emissions fell to 1.04 billion tonnes, down 5.8% from the previous year, while those from hydrofluorocarbons, which replace water-depleting substances ozone as refrigerants, continued their upward trend, increasing by 4.0%.

Narita Airport empty departure hall for international flights in December 2020. National greenhouse gas emissions in the year to March 2021 have declined partly due to a decrease in passenger traffic and freight due to the COVID-19 pandemic. | KYODO

The industrial sector reduced its energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by 8.1% compared to the previous year, while these emissions fell by 10.2% in the transport sector. The residential sector saw its emissions increase by 4.5%, likely because people spent more time at home during the pandemic.

The energy conversion sector, which includes power plants and petroleum refineries, reduced its emissions by 8.4% compared to the previous year, as emissions from the manufacture of petroleum products fell.

Greenhouse gas removals by forests and other ‘carbon sink’ measures have continued their downward trend in recent times, standing at 44.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent in in fiscal year 2020. The government plans to replace older trees, which are less efficient at absorbing carbon, with younger ones.

When gases absorbed by forests and other measures of carbon sinks are subtracted from total emissions, the figure rises to 1.11 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent, a drop of 21.5% from at the level of fiscal 2013, according to the ministry.

Yamaguchi said he plans to submit those figures to the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on Friday as the country’s greenhouse gas inventory.

Japan, along with the United States and other countries, aims to become carbon neutral – an economy with net zero greenhouse gas emissions – by 2050.

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