Japan pledges to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga during an extraordinary session of the lower house of parliament to deliver his first political speech in Tokyo on October 26.

Economic considerations more than an environmental imperative seem to have convinced the Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, to set a goal of reducing the archipelago’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to zero by 2050. and of “Do everything to achieve a green society”. In 2018, Japan generated 1.24 billion tonnes of CO equivalent2 of these gases, placing it in fifth position worldwide. Mr. Suga’s decision goes further than Tokyo’s previous commitment – considered insufficient – to reduce emissions by 80% by 2050 and by 100% by 2100.

Mie Asaoka, president of the Kiko network, the Japanese environmental protection organization, saw in Mr. Suga’s announcement “A clear statement, direction and timetable for a decarbonized society essential in Japan”. “This declaration is accompanied by an obligation to act”, however tempered Sam Annesley, executive director of Greenpeace Japan.

“Boost growth”

Japan appears to be following the major world powers which have made similar commitments. In September, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that his country would be carbon neutral by 2060. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden pledged a “Economy with 100% clean energy” and zero emissions by 2050. The European Union too, with its Green New Deal unveiled in December 2019, is considering “Carbon taxes” on imports from countries deemed less strict in the fight against climate change, which could affect Japanese exporters.

Domestically, Japan is suffering the consequences of the current disturbances, with, among other things, an intensification of powerful typhoons. The Germanwatch environmental analysis center placed it in its 2020 report at the top of the list of countries most affected by the climate crisis.

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Japan, however, follows a policy deemed ambiguous to say the least. In July, the government announced the dismantling of around 100 coal-fired electricity production sites with high CO emissions.2. But it plans to build 22 more and continues to support exports to developing nations of power plants presented as in “Clean coal”, a policy that earned him strong criticism at COP25 in December 2019.

Yoshihide Suga emphasized the importance of “Change the way of thinking” and of “Proactive measures against global warming” in industry and power generation. He mentioned the creation of a framework bringing together local authorities. In an allusion to the technological know-how of Japan, and to the policy of promoting “Hydrogen company”, he also pointed out that “Measures against global warming can transform the economy and boost growth, not affect it”.

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