Japan has set an ambitious goal of becoming completely carbon neutral by 2050. The world’s third-biggest economy has increasingly come under pressure to make more forceful commitments to climate initiatives after initially promising just an 80 percent reduction in emissions by 2050, and no specific commitment on total carbon neutrality.
Japan’s prime minister Yoshihide Suga said in an address to parliament, “Responding to climate change is no longer a constraint on economic growth. 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.”
Despite these promises, there are lingering doubts about Japan’s ability to actually deliver given its reliance on coal and other fossil fuels. Details have yet been provided on how the country will reduce emissions to zero, though it has pledged to prioritize renewable and nuclear energy. Suga also vowed to expedite research and development on solar batteries and carbon recycling, and change Japan’s reliance on coal energy.
Greenpeace Japan hailed the announcement as good news. According to The Guardian, Sam Annesley, the group’s executive director, 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 percent renewable electricity by 2030. Anything less than 50 percent 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.”