New Year's Column 2020: Renewing Hope for Averting the Climate Crisis

Teruyuki Ohno, Executive Director, Renewable Energy Institute

10 January 2020

in Japanese

Since the close of last year Australia has been ravaged by bushfires on an unprecedented scale. In New South Wales alone, in the southeastern part of the country, some 30,000 square kilometers have been destroyed—over twice the area of the entire Tokyo metropolitan area.

Extreme weather in 2019 was not confined to Australia; heat waves, floods, drought, forest fires occurred with alarming frequency all around the world. Japan was witness to Typhoons Faxai (No. 15) and Hagibis (No. 19), which caused major damage across large areas. The impact of climate change is now being called the climate crisis.

According to the IPCC’s 1.5℃ Report, it will be necessary to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to virtually zero by 2050. What bears mentioning though is that the report also states that emissions will need to be cut in half by 2030. Major reductions are needed now, not 30 years from now. Despite this warning bell rung by the world’s scientists, last year, four years since the Paris Agreement of 2015, global carbon dioxide emissions increased once again.

The Paris Agreement enters the implementation stage this year. 2020 is the year for beginning to make firm progress toward averting the climate crisis; there must be a clear path forged this year to major reductions by 2030.

Raising energy efficiency and transitioning to renewable energy, which has become cheaper than thermal power in many regions, are currently the two main means for reducing carbon dioxide emissions globally.

Even in Japan, the cost of solar PV will soon be lower than gas-fired thermal power, and in the mid-2020s, it is expected to be lower than coal-fired power as well. Deployment of wind power, which had gotten off to a slow start, is now expected to make major inroads, with several large, offshore wind projects being announced. Onshore and offshore projects totaling over 30,000 MW are currently in the environmental assessment phase. On the demand side as well, RE100 membership has risen to 30 corporations, as calls mount for greater utilization of renewables. To make the major reductions required by the IPCC, these trends will need to be further accelerated.

The Japanese government, by contrast, has declared that coal-fired power, which emits over two times the carbon dioxide of gas-fired thermal, will help mitigate global warming, and it continues to promote it both at home and abroad. Some power companies are complicit as well, but it is clear that a business model dependent on a technology with no future will invite bankruptcy sooner rather than later.

Accelerating growth in offshore wind and other renewables will not only help reducing carbon dioxide emissions; it will mean the creation of new growth industries in Japan that could also be exported to other Asian countries.

Renewable Energy Institute will be holding the RE-Users Summit 2020 on 31 January of this year and REvision 2020 on 4 March to introduce the latest global trends in renewable energy and decarbonization and to discuss their prospects in Japan. We also plan to present our renewable energy outlook for 2030 and 2050 and announce related policy recommendations. Moreover, as secretariat of the Japan Climate Initiative, a network of corporations, local governments and other non-state actors, we will continue to robustly support the organization’s activities in partnership with CDP Japan and WWF Japan.

I thank you for your continuing interest in Renewable Energy Institute and its activities, and look forward to your active participation and support.

External Links

  • JCI 気候変動イニシアティブ
  • 自然エネルギー協議会
  • 指定都市 自然エネルギー協議会
  • irelp
  • 全球能源互联网发展合作组织

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