The G7 Climate, Energy, and Environment Ministers' Communiqué released on 16 April clearly stated that "there is the increased urgency to reduce global GHG emissions by around 43 percent by 2030 and 60 percent by 2035, relative to the 2019 level” and responded to the IPCC's call for urgent and enhanced reduction measures in its AR6 Synthesis Report.
Japan's current 2030 reduction target, a 46% reduction from the 2013 level, is only a 37% reduction from the 2019 level. At the current target, Japan would have to reduce its emissions by 23 percentage points over five years starting in 2030. And since a 60% reduction is the required reduction level for the world as a whole, we must not forget that Japan, as a developed country, is essentially required to make even more aggressive reductions.
What is required of the Japanese government now is to accelerate its emission reductions through 2030 so that more than a 60% reduction by 2035 will be possible.
The Communiqué emphasizes “the importance of significantly increasing the pace and scale of deployment of renewable energy” as well as achieving energy efficiency as a pillar of the energy transformation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Communiqué also sets specific G7 numerical targets of 150 GW of offshore wind power and 1 TW (1,000 GW) of solar power by 2030. This target level itself does not represent the fullest pursuit of the utilization of the potential of the two renewable energy sources, and further ambition should be explored for solar power in particular. However, this is the first time that the G7 has set specific targets for solar PV and offshore wind power, and it deserves recognition as a clear statement of a strategy to decarbonize the power sector through renewables.
The fact that the importance of expanding renewable energy was emphasized as an agreement among all G7 countries contrasts with the fact that the agreement on nuclear power remains limited to those countries that choose to use it.
In response to the G7's agreement last year “to commit to achieving a fully or predominantly decarbonized power sector by 2035”, the Japanese government has been reluctant to reinforce the renewables target, offering the strained explanation that "predominantly" means 51% or more. But now that the high target of a 60% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2035 (65% reduction in carbon dioxide) has been set, this excuse is becoming increasingly untenable.
In its "Proposal for the 2035 Energy Mix (First Edition)" released on 11 April 2023, Renewable Energy Institute presented that more than 80% of Japan's electricity can be supplied by renewable energy sources by 2035 and identified its possibilities and challenges. The Japanese government is required to set a renewable energy target that will enable a 60% or more reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2035 and to take necessary measures such as regulatory reforms that will enable the accelerated deployment of renewables by 2030 and 2035.
The Japanese government's insistence at the G7 meeting this time was said to have been to gain the support of each country for ammonia-coal-fired power generation, which is a priority of the GX Basic Policy. However, the Communiqué did not recognize the use of ammonia in the electricity sector as a common G7 policy but only noted that some countries were exploring using it. Moreover, it is conditioned to be used “if this can be aligned with a 1.5°C pathway and our (G7’s) collective goal for a fully or predominantly decarbonized power sector by 2035". Even if not only the 20% ammonia co-firing to coal-fired power plants as planned by the GX Basic Policy, but also 50% co-firing, would emit carbon dioxide more than the natural gas-fired power plants. It is totally inconsistent with the decarbonization of the power sector by 2035, and coal-ammonia co-fired power generation does not meet the conditions imposed by the agreement.
Just prior to the G7 meeting, on 12 April, 303 non-state actors, including many leading Japanese companies participating in the Japan Climate Initiative, issued a statement calling for a shift away from fossil fuels and for the vast majority of electricity to come from renewables by 2035. Renewable Energy Institute urges the Japanese government to respond to the voices of these Japanese companies and local governments. The Japanese government should urgently review its GX strategy, which aims to continue the use of fossil fuels and accelerate an energy transformation based on renewables that will help overcome the climate and energy crisis.
Opinion Ad on Offshore Wind Placed in the Nikkei (4 April 2023)
Opinion Ad on Offshore Wind Placed in Hokkaido Shimbun (7 April 2023)