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Japan commits to net zero by 2050

Japan City - Osaka

Japan has become the latest major economy to commit to achieving net zero emissions, with the country setting 2050 as its target. 

While the 2050 deadline will likely irk many campaigners, this is the biggest commitment Japan has ever made in regards to cutting its emissions. Previously the country was targeting a reduction of just 80% by 2050.

Japan now joins the UK and the EU in targeting the 2050 deadline, with the UK the first nation having passed legislation mandating the target. Many remain sceptical as to whether it’s possible to actually achieve, although in three out of four scenarios modelled by the National Grid ESO, the UK will meet its net zero target.

The new prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, noted that curbing emissions was of high priority for the Government of Japan. “We need to change our mindset that proactively taking measures against global warming will bring about changes to industrial structures, as well as the economy and society, and lead to major growth,” he told Japan’s parliament.

As the world’s fifth largest emitter of greenhouse gases and CO2, Japan’s commitment to achieving net zero is an important one. Arguably the most important one thus far, bar the EU. That’s because Japan was responsible for 3.56% of all global CO2 emissions in 2017 and 2.99% of greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing that number to zero will have a big impact on combating climate change. 

However, Japan needs to be joined by other nations which have rapidly increased their greenhouse gas emissions over the years. Those nations include Brazil and India, both of which seem disinterested in setting a goal of net zero, especially Brazil under Bolsonaro. 

How Japan plans on achieving its net zero target

While Japan is promising to achieve net zero by 2050, how does the country plan on getting to that point? Especially since the country has become more reliant on coal and gas for its energy production since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in 2011. 

Well, the country plans on investing in renewable energy sources, with Suga promising that ‘next-generation’ solar cells are one way the country hopes to meet its goal. Japan has also been steadily increasing its wind power capacity, having pledged to build 10GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030. 

Global effort to reduce emissions

Japan may be the latest to commit to reducing emissions to net zero, but it’s not alone. The EU is making steps to enshrine its net zero commitment into law, while China has promised to achieve net zero by 2060. That latter goal is incredibly important, as China is responsible for a quarter of all greenhouse gases globally and nearly a third of all CO2 emissions. 

Unfortunately, not everyone is going at the same pace as Japan, China and the EU. The United States has yet to commit to any deadline and likely won’t, all the time Donald J Trump is President. Thankfully, the UK is still keen on leading the world in its climate targets, with the nation set to announce even more ambitious environmental initiatives in the coming months. 

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