Japan vows to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga

New Delhi (NVI): Japan will achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga today declared, outlining an ambitious agenda as the country struggles to balance economic and pandemic concerns.

Suga outlined the major move in his country’s attitude toward climate change in his first policy speech to Japan’s parliament since taking office last month.

“Responding to climate change is no longer a constraint on economic growth,” Suga said, adding “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 great growth.”

He said he intends to make a sustainable economy a pillar of his growth strategy and “put maximum effort into achieving a green society.” That includes achieving a carbon-free society by 2050.

Suga said innovation was key to achieving the goal, including next-generation solar cells and carbon recycling, and he promised investment in research and development, as well as deregulation and “green investment.”

“Global warming measures are no longer obstacles for economic growth, but would lead to industrial and socio-economic reforms and a major growth,” he said. “We need to change our mindset.”

Notably, Japan, the world’s third-largest economy and its fifth-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, has come under intense criticism from international environmental groups for continuing to build and finance coal-fired power plants, both at home and abroad.

The country had previously made a commitment only to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050 and achieve carbon neutrality in the second half of the century.

Japan’s current energy plan, set in 2018, calls for 22-24 per cent of its energy to come from renewables, 20-22 per cent from nuclear power and 56 per cent from fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas.

The European Union and Britain have already set similar targets for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, and China recently announced it would become carbon-free by 2060.