Renewable Energy Institute released the following comment in response to the government’s announcement of Japan’s new greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction target of 46% by 2030 from 2013 levels.
Call for an Immediate Shift in Energy Policy to Realize the 2030 Emission Reduction Target
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced Japan’s new greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction target of 46% by fiscal year (FY) 2030 compared to FY2013 levels by 2030 and said Japan will “continue strenuous efforts in its challenge to meet the lofty goal of cutting its emission by 50%”
It has been pointed out that Japan must achieve a reduction of more than 60% to achieve the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement and the new target is still short of the level needed. On the other hand, the 46% or 50% reduction is well above the previous target of 26%, and is a first step in the right direction to show its commitment and to join the global efforts to avoid a serious climate crisis.
What is most important now is to swiftly change its energy policy necessary to achieve the new 2030 target, which is just nine years from now. Even after Prime Minister Suga declared carbon neutral in 2050 in October last year, the government councils have discussed continuing the use of "high efficiency” coal-fired power and have emphasized the limits of renewable energy expansion in Japan. Given the official announcement of 46% emission reduction and further consideration of 50% reduction, the government needs to fundamentally reassess its policies.
In its "Proposal for 2030 Energy Mix in Japan" announced in August last year, Renewable Energy Institute (REI) showed how to enable a 47% reduction from FY2013 levels in FY2030. The core of this proposal is to supply more than 45% of electricity from renewable energy, and to promptly phase out coal-fired power, including new facilities currently under construction.
Following the government's decision, some incumbent utilities, business groups, and politicians have expressed their desire to restart nuclear power, and to replace or construct new plants. However, the cost of nuclear power generation is becoming higher not only for new constructions but also for restarting existing nuclear power plants, and its utilization is not economically rational. Moreover, the frequent scandals of utilities involved in the management of nuclear power plants, has raised safety concerns among the public and it is only natural that many people do not support the restart.
Energy policies aimed at achieving the 2030 target must lead to the realization of 2050 carbon neutrality. As our 2030 proposal, as well as the 2050 proposal "Renewable pathways to climate-neutral Japan” show the key to decarbonization policies is maximization of energy efficiency and expansion of renewable energy. Reliance on nuclear power and thermal power with CCS not only raises energy costs, but is also an unfeasible choice in terms of safety and geographical conditions.
Japan Climate Initiative (JCI), with the support of 291 members including 140 large companies, had called on the government towards its announcement to go beyond 45% and aim for an emission reduction of 50%. As a secretariat organization of JCI, REI recognizes companies’ and local governments’ serious intention to tackle climate crisis and their deep concern and conviction that a national policy shift is necessary in order for them to play a responsible role in international community.
REI will continue to work with many of these non-state actors on energy shifts towards realization of decarbonization, and will continue to make drastic and realistic policy proposals.
Renewable Energy Institute
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