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EU-Japan seminar presents long-term climate change strategies for 2050

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By Ruxandra Florea

A EU-Japan joint policy seminar on the theme of climate change took place at the office of the Delegation of EU in Tokyo on Jan 17. The event brought together European Commissioners, Japanese ministers and businessmen discussing EU and Japan’s long-term climate change strategies. 

The European strategy mainly consists of the long-term goal of achieving a climate neutral European economy by 2050, by reducing the greenhouse gas (GHG) and carbon (CO2) emissions to 0. To meet the criteria, seven areas have been targeted: energy efficiency; deployment of renewable electricity; clean, safe and connected mobility; competitive industry; network infrastructure; agriculture and forestry networks; carbon capture and storage. 

In the near future, the European Commission aims to invest a 2.8% of the EU GDP to achieve a net-zero GHG economy. Before reaching the ambitious 2050 goals, however, the EU needs to first prioritize the targets set by 2030 first, such as 40% cuts in GHG emissions. The strategy laid out in the seminar is not yet the official strategy adopted by the EU for 2050, more consultations at local, national and regional level will follow. By 2020, the EU Commission expects to submit the long term EU climate change official strategy to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) under the Paris Agreement. 

Japan’s long-term climate change strategy is as ambitious as the EU’s strategy. In Japan, non-state actors such as local governments play a key role. According to Kaoru Magosaki, Climate Change Division Director at MOFA, both Nagano Prefecture and Yokohama City have become remarkable examples for their decarbonization and energy-saving initiatives at the local level. 

Overall, the Japanese long-term climate change strategy has three main pillars: promotion of innovation that will lead world energy transition and decarbonization; promotion of fund circulation through visualizing corporate efforts; contribution to reducing GHG on a global scale with a promotion of business activities. Such three-layered strategy would lead to the realization of a ‘virtuous cycle’ between the environment and growth by 2050. 

Both EU and Japanese officials have emphasized the importance of joint action in the promotion of a global climate policy, as the EU and Japan are key signatories of the Paris Agreement and as the latter holds a leadership role in the upcoming G20 summit in June.

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