Climate activists say Tokyo is moving too slowly and its continued use of coal undermines its objectives Photo: AFP
politics

Japan sets carbon-neutral goal by 2050

7 Comments
By Kyoko Hasegawa and Sara Hussein

Japan has joined Britain in pledging to become carbon neutral later this century, as the world races to prevent catastrophic climate change, but critics blasted Tokyo's plan as unambitious.

While Britain on Wednesday outlined plans for fast-track legislation that would reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, Japan's policy only pledges to meet the goal sometime after the middle of the century.

Both countries are among the nearly 200 nations that have signed up to the Paris climate agreement, which commits signatories to efforts to cap global warming at "well below" two degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit).

Japan's policy, adopted by the cabinet on Tuesday, is expected to be submitted to the United Nations before the country hosts the G20 summit in Osaka later this month.

It sets "a carbon-neutral society as the final goal, and seeks to realise it at the earliest possible time in the latter half of this century."

But while it says renewable energy -- such as solar and wind -- will become the mainstay of the country's energy use, it adds that coal-fired power plants will remain operational.

Climate activists say Tokyo is moving too slowly and its continued use of coal undermines its objectives.

The plan "shows the Japanese government is not truly serious about mitigating climate change," said Hanna Hakko, senior energy campaigner for Greenpeace Japan.

"This is especially clear in the fact that there is no indication or timeline about phasing out coal."

"You simply can't solve climate change while continuing to burn coal," she said.

The move comes before environment ministers from the Group of 20 meet in central Japan this weekend, and as Tokyo looks to position itself as a leader on climate efforts and reducing marine plastic waste.

The policy says Japan will keep a 2016 pledge to reduce greenhouse gas by 80 percent by 2050 from around 2010 levels and seeks to make renewable energy a major source of electricity.

It aims to reduce reliance on nuclear energy while also tackling the "reduction of CO2 emissions from thermal power generation" fired by fossil fuels like coal.

Expansion of renewable energy is key in the plan, "but it doesn't necessarily mean that we won't use thermal power at all," environment ministry official Jun Sato told AFP.

Japan believes with technological breakthroughs "we will make efforts to reduce CO2 emissions from thermal power plants," he said, for example by collecting CO2.

Carbon capture technologies remain largely untested, and some climate activists warn that a reliance on the development of future technologies to mitigate emissions will lead to countries failing to meet their Paris deal targets.

In a separate long-term energy plan approved last year, Japan said it aims to have non-fossil fuel energy account for 44 percent of its whole energy demand by 2030, compared to 19 percent in 2017.

These non-fossil fuel objectives may prove difficult. Toughened safety measures -- introduced after the 2011 Fukushima tsunami and nuclear disaster -- mean some existing nuclear reactors face being closed because they do not now conform to standards.

Britain's government on Wednesday outlined legislation that would make the country the first in the EU to put its emission reduction deadlines into law.

"As the first country to legislate for long-term climate targets, we can be truly proud of our record in tackling climate change," Prime Minister Theresa May was quoted as saying in a statement.

She said Britain "must lead the world to a cleaner, greener form of growth".

The move was welcomed by Greenpeace campaigners there, with the group's chief UK scientist Doug Parr saying it "fires the starting gun for a fundamental transformation of our economy."

© 2019 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.


7 Comments
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How about outlawing sleeping in cars and trucks whilst running the engine?

How about subsidizing solar panel manufacturing as China does?

How about really taking account of the weather and wearing clothing suitable for the outside temperature?

How about planting more trees for shade?

How about placing solar panels on the millions of apartment buildings in the country?

How about......?

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Japan has joined Britain in pledging to become carbon neutral later this century, as the world races to prevent catastrophic climate change, but critics blasted Tokyo's plan as unambitious.

Can anyone find one piece of evidence that CO2 leads to "catastrophic climate change"? Just one! Where is the link?

I want to see the evidence before I part with yet more of my money for a CO2 tax, increased transportation costs, food costs (CO2 consumed in production and transportation) and on and on. I also want to see the evidence that CO2 is somehow harmful to the climate before being surveilled in my house (it's coming) via a smart meter which monitors smart appliances and electricity use in detail. If smart refrigerators monitor the type and quantity of food then people who consume meat, for example, will pay higher costs due to a bigger CO2 footprint.

All of these predictions of climate catastrophe are based on computer models (junk in, junk out.) CO2 is the gas of life. It's plant food and humans would be dead without it.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

The headline is extremely misleading on the very key point at issue t - the article says Japan is committed to carbon neutrality in the latter half of the century, so it is "by 2100", not "by 2050". That is a massive difference.

I tend to agree with the criticism, Japan's goals are pathetically weak here, in order to stave off the worst case scenarios we need to get there by 2050 at the latest and not, as the current plan seems to be, doing it as late as 50 years after we pass that point.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

"As the first country to legislate for long-term climate targets, we can be truly proud of our record in tackling climate change," Prime Minister Theresa May was quoted as saying in a statement.

I'd have thought Theresa May would be wary of bold declarations after "I will deliver Brexit", and "we will be leaving on March 29, 2019" but she's in there again. The cynic in me sees it as an attempt to save her historical reputation. Since she is out the door, whatever the UK does on climate change will be decided on and lead by other people. While May was leader herself, the UK dabbled in fracking.

As for Japan's declaration, without actual action, this is merely nice sounding words.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

In any case, this issue is secondary to "pollution" in total with Water and Air as the two most important areas of concern. We cannot survive without drinkable water and breathable air, the two natural resource being destroyed by most obviously today by "plastics" and the process of "plastic production".

The by product of extremely slow "decay" of plastic particles and materials in the water and air as with radio activity from nuclear waste have penetrated everything on earth from the environment to plants and animals where our health and existence is being affected.

In that sense "carbon-neutral" is OK and acceptable. Even if climate change does or does not occur as predicted, the "pollution" will catch-up with us much much sooner.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What really matters is what China, India and Africa do in the next 20 years.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

JonathanJo. Right. And that’s why it’s hopeless because west will not interfere. The left would consider it racist or neo-colonial mindset. That’s the irony because they’re the ones screaming about climate change.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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