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Japan PM Pledges Carbon Neutrality By 2050

Japan PM Pledges Carbon Neutrality By 2050
Japan, the third largest economy of the world, will become carbon neutral by 2050, said the country’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga. This is the latest efforts of the Japanese government at tackling the climate emergency.
“Responding to climate change is no longer a constraint on economic growth,” Suga said on Monday in his first policy address to parliament since taking office.
“We need to change our thinking to the view that taking assertive measures against climate change will lead to changes in industrial structure and the economy that will bring about growth.”
“I declare we will aim to realise a decarbonised society,” he added amid applause from other MPs.
Previous Japan had said that it would achieve an 80 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 and that would be followed by the country trying to achieve carbon neutrality “as soon as possible” in the second half of the century. This approach of the government had drawn criticism and had put pressure to to strengthen its climate commitments.
With this change in approach and policy, Japan is now win line with the climate commitment of the European Union, which last year also set itself a similar target. On the other hand, the second largest economy of the world China announced recently of its target to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060.
But given its heavy reliance on coal and other fossil fuels and the general opposition among the public of further increasing the share of nuclear energy in its energy mix, there are doubts about the ability of Japan to achieve the 2050 goal that it has set itself. It was almost ten years ago that the triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant had taken place after a devastating Tsunami.
Set in 2018, the current energy mix plan of Japan includes ensuring renewables accounting for about 22-24 per cent of its energy requirement, between 20 and 22 per cent from nuclear power and the rest 56 per cent being derived from fossil fuels.
No details on how Japan would reduce carbon emissions to zero ere provided by Suga, who replaced Shinzo Abe in mid-September. He however said that the focus of the government would be on promoting renewable energy and prioritising safety in the wake of its efforts to increase the share of nuclear power.
Research and development work on key technologies such as the development of next-generation solar batteries and carbon recycling could be speed up by the government, Suga said, while also promising to “fundamentally change Japan’s long-term reliance on coal-fired energy”.
But since the 2011 Fukushima meltdown had forced Japan to close don dozens of nuclear reactors, cutting down on emissions has been a struggle for Japan – the fifth largest emitter of carbon dioxide in the world. The government has been able to restart only a small number of the closed down nuclear reactors,
While welcoming Suga’s commitment to carbon neutrality, Greenpeace Japan said there should be no role for nuclear power.
“Nearly 10 years on from Fukushima we are still facing the disastrous consequences of nuclear power, and this radioactive legacy has made clear that nuclear energy has no place in a green, sustainable future,” the group’s executive director, Sam Annesley, said in a statement.
“If we are to achieve net zero by 2050, we must massively increase Japan’s renewable energy capacity, with a target of 50% renewable electricity by 2030. Anything less than 50% and Japan risks falling short of net zero, and more importantly risks driving the world above 1.5 degrees as per the Paris climate agreement.”

Christopher J. Mitchell

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