Renewable Energy Institute, today, ahead of COP26, released a statement calling on the Japanese government to take urgent action and introduce concrete policies that would lead to halving our emissions by 2030.
Concrete Policies Needed to Halve Our Emissions by 2030
The Government of Japan, on October 22 and just prior to COP26, decided on its greenhouse gas emission reduction target (NDC- Nationally Determined Contributions), the Strategic Energy Plan, the Global Warming Countermeasures Plan, and the 2050 Decarbonization Strategy (the "Long-Term Strategy under the Paris Agreement as Growth Strategy") .
The 46-50% greenhouse gas emission reduction in FY2030 (compared to FY2013), which the government announced in April, was officially set as Japan's target. In addition, the Strategic Energy Plan and the Global Warming Countermeasures Plan clearly stated "the principle of giving priority to renewable energy." In the Strategic Energy Plan, the share of renewable energy in the power supply mix in FY2030 was set at 36-38%. At the same time, the Plan states, "This level is not an upper limit or a cap. If renewable energy increases and these levels are reached at an earlier stage, we will aim for even higher levels." This is a positive step compared to the lower target of 22-24% set in previous plans.
Despite this progress, the contents of the Strategic Energy Plan and the Global Warming Countermeasures Plan are inadequate in light of their original role of clearly indicating the direction of energy policy and climate change countermeasures to ensure the FY2030 target is reached. It also includes contents that run counter to the world's efforts to avoid a climate crisis. In addition, the long-term strategy does not provide any specific energy scenario for achieving carbon neutrality in 2050.
In particular, the fact that the Strategic Energy Plan plans to use coal-fired power for about 20% of electricity generation in 2030, is contrary to international recognition that such plants must be phased out by 2030 in developed countries. We urge the government to urgently review its policy of maintaining support for coal-fired power generation.
In addition, the government is planning to use carbon capture and storage (CCS) for thermal power generation, including coal-fired power generation, beyond 2030. For the captured CO2 that cannot be stored in Japan, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is planning to export to Southeast Asian countries.
In the course of discussions at the Strategic Energy Plan council, a surprising scenario was presented in which more than 200 million tonnes of CO2 would be exported every year. This export plan itself is not included in the adopted Plans, but it is included in the agenda of the "Asia CCUS Network", launched by METI in June 2021. Such a plan to hold Asian developing countries accountable for emissions from developed countries needs to be stopped.
What is needed at the same time as the strategy revision, is to identify and promptly introduce the necessary measures and systems to realize Japan's pledge of 46-50% reduction by 2030.
One of the most important tasks is to implement measures to realize the "principle of giving top priority to renewable energy.” First of all, the regulatory and institutional reforms identified by the Cabinet Office's Task Force on Comprehensive Review of Regulations for Renewable Energy must be implemented promptly to accelerate the introduction of renewable energy, including offshore wind power. We must also accelerate power system reforms to change a system that favors existing power sources such as coal-fired and nuclear power, and to eliminate obstacles that prevent renewable energy sources from accessing the power grid.
The second measure is the introduction of carbon pricing, which has been an issue for many years, in order to decarbonize the industrial sector, including the steel and other heavy chemical industries. If such a system is introduced, companies will better take into account the amount of CO2 emissions resulting from their manufacturing processes, the energy they choose to use, and their investment decisions. This is an essential basic rule for corporate activities to realize a decarbonized society.
Non-state actors will also play an important role in achieving the 2030 reduction target. Membership numbers of the Japan Climate Initiative (JCI), a network of non-state actors in Japan aiming to achieve the 1.5°C target, have increased sixfold to more than 670 in the three years since it was established in 2018. The commitment to Race to Zero is growing rapidly among pioneering corporations and municipalities, which number over 40 organizations to date. More than 60 large Japanese companies are participating in RE100, and these companies are using Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) to create additional renewable energy sources that actually contribute to CO2 reduction.
Local governments across the country are increasingly setting targets to reduce their emissions by 50% by 2030. They have also started to introduce concrete measures to achieve the target. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has announced its intention to introduce an obligation to install solar power generation in new-housings, with a similar proposal postponed by the national government.Over the past year, there has also been a rapid increase in the number of youth groups in Japan calling for bold climate measures.
As shown by these developments, there are definitely voices in Japanese society calling for stronger climate measures, and the power to realize these measures is growing.
What the government needs to do now is to listen to the voices of a wide range of non-state actors who are taking pioneering measures on their own, rather than those of a few with vested interests. In order to fulfill our responsibility to avoid a climate crisis, and to ensure sustainable development and enable international competitiveness of the Japanese economy at the same time in a rapidly decarbonizing world, we strongly urge the introduction of policies that leads to halving our emissions by 2030.