Japan’s strategy on climate change, part of global deal, set at 26% GHG reduction by 2030

Author:
Beth Woodthorpe-Evans
Reading time: 3 minutes
17 July 2015

LONDON: Japan has just presented its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution – or INDC – with a target of reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 26% below 2013 levels by 2030, equivalent to 18% below 1990 levels by 2030.

However, Japan’s INDC also accounts for land use, land use change and forestry: therefore, its target is reduced to 23.3% below 2030 (15% below 1990) levels of GHG from fossil fuel and industry.

DECREASED LEVEL OF AMBITION

The announcement comes a day after the government's power generation plan for 2030 from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, calling the nation to be less dependent on nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster in 2011.

Japan’s climate blueprint is “internationally comparable and ambitious”, said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a government meeting on global warming in Tokyo last June. It “entails concrete measures and technologies” for reduced GHG emissions, he continued. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is looking to build on the 55% of global emissions already covered by INDCs so far.

However, Climate Action Tracker rates Japan’s INDC as ‘inadequate’ because “if all countries adopted this level of ambition, warming would likely exceed 3-4 degrees Celsius in the 21st century,” adding that “with the policies it already has in place, Japan can almost reach its proposed INDC target without taking any further action.”

NUCLEAR POWER

The world’s fifth-biggest emitter has faced hesitation in setting an overly ambitious post-2020 reduction framework as the country deals with energy policy change in light of several nuclear power plants closing. Nuclear power, according to the government, will account for 20% to 22% of Japan's electricity mix in 2030, down from 30% before Fukushima. The country has therefore sought to import more natural gas and coal, increasing its GHG emissions.

In spite of uncertainty surrounding its energy plans and rising fossil fuel use, Japanese officials say the reduction goal is consistent with the target from industrialized nations to cut emissions by a combined 80% by 2050.

With the G7 summit and the latest round of United Nations climate change talks in Bonn over, Japan’s contribution helps round the on-going climate negotiations towards a more coherent vision.

More nations are expected to come forward and release their INDCs in the next coming months as we near the second deadline for UNFCCC parties to submit their pledge in October, ahead of COP21 thereafter in Paris in December.

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by Andrew Pickens

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