Japan sets itself tougher targets on emissions reduction

Suga announces ambitious goals considering country is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels, in part because many of its nuclear reactors remain offline after Fukushima

Japan sets itself tougher targets on emissions reduction
A worker stands at a factory emitting smoke at the Keihin industrial zone in Kawasaki, south of Tokyo. Photo: Reuters

(ATF) Japan aims to cut its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 46% by 2030, significantly more than previously pledged, ahead of a key US-hosted climate summit.

The new target revises a previous goal of cutting emissions 26% from 2013 levels by 2030.

Japan is still heavily reliant on fossil fuels, in part because many of its nuclear reactors remain offline after the Fukushima meltdown a decade ago.

Suga last year set a 2050 deadline for Japan to become carbon-neutral, putting it on the same timeline as the European Union and ahead of China's 2060 goal.

The earlier 26% pledge "wouldn't be enough to reach carbon neutrality by 2050", Thanh Ha Pham, an equity analyst at Jefferies in Tokyo said.

Environmentalists have urged Japan and other nations to take more immediate action ahead of the two-day virtual Earth Day summit organised by Biden.

CLIMATE TALKS

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was one of 40 leaders who attended the talks that kick off on Thursday, heralding a US return to the climate front lines after Donald Trump's term, in which the US withdrew from the Paris climate agreement.

Pham noted that about 80% of Japan's land mass is inhabitable, consisting largely of forests and mountains. "Adding renewable power could be challenging not only because of the topography, but would also weigh on the grid," he said.

The analyst noted that renewable power generation in flat areas is already the highest in the world. "Japanese households are paying a huge 3.8 trillion yen or about 800 yen per household for the feed-in tariff system subsidising expensive solar and wind energy."

Japan’s GHG emissions fell 2.7% to a record low in the 2019 financial year that ended March 2020, government figures showed on Tuesday, thanks to growing use of renewable energy and lower energy consumption by manufacturers.

The US recorded an 11% decline in carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 primarily because of the effects of the pandemic and related restrictions. The UK’s carbon emissions dropped by 15%, according to analysis compiled by Lloyds Banking Group and the Carbon Trust.

Several other countries have also announced revised targets for slashing emissions and more pledges are expected at the meeting.

With reporting by Agence France-Presse and Reuters

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energy greenhouse gas climate change japan revised emission reduction target