Japan Commits to Cut Climate Emissions 46-50 Percent by 2030

Prime Minister Suga announced that Japan would commit to strengthen their target to 46-50% below 2013 levels by 2030 (44-48 percent compared to 2005 levels). In order to seize the economic and innovation opportunity of climate action, Japan should have committed to a target of “at least 50%” as leading countries, companies, investors, and organizations are calling for such an innovative country to deliver. This is a step forward but not yet a strong enough signal from a major economy and climate polluting country. The target of 46-50% is an improvement, but I’m confident that Japan can deliver emissions cuts by more than 50 percent in the coming months. It needs to join the leading countries in the world in committing to be over halfway to net zero by the end of this decade.

Leaders Summit on Climate

Specifically Prime Minister Suga committed Japan to:

“reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 46% in the fiscal year 2030 compared to the fiscal year 2013…Furthermore, Japan will continue strenuous efforts in its challenge to meet the lofty goal of cutting its emissions by 50%.”

Japan’s previous target was to cut emissions 26 percent below 2013 levels by 2030 (23 percent below 2005 levels) by 2030. As the 8th largest emitting nation and the world’s 3rd largest economy, this target was far too low for such a leading country. Since that target was adopted, the Japanese government committed to net zero emissions by 2050 so it was clear that they needed to further align their near-term actions to be credible.

The target of 46-50% below 2013 levels gets Japan closer to a net zero and 1.5°C aligned trajectory but is still short of what the seizing the economic opportunity demands.

Diverse groups in Japan are calling for more

Leading Japanese groups have called for Japan to commit to a target of (50-55 percent below 2013 levels) (45-50 percent below 1990 levels; 48-53 percent below 2005 levels by 2030). An international assessment placed a 1.5°C aligned pathway for Japan even higher, at over 60 percent compared to 2013 levels by 2030. A coalition of 174 leading Japanese companies have called upon Japan to set a target of cutting domestic emissions by 50 percent below 2013 levels by 2030 (48 percent below 2005 levels). Over 290 Japanese organizations – 208 companies, 22 local governments, 61 non-governmental organizations and various other stakeholders, including universities and religious groups – signed a joint statement – calling for deep action from the country. As representative Takejiro Sueyoshi of the Japan Climate Initiative (JCI) stated, “I urge the Government of Japan to go beyond 45% and aim for an emission reduction of 50%.”

Previous to this announcement the Japanese government had reportedly been considering a target of 40-45 percent below 2013 levels by 2030. And, earlier in the year there were signs that Japan was considering an even weaker target of 30-40 percent below 2013 levels by 2030. So, this target is an important improvement from where they started. If they deliver on this target, hundreds of millions of tons less climate pollution will go into the atmosphere – with a difference of over 130 million tons per year between a 40 and 50 percent target.  

Japan can do more – committing to 50 percent reductions and beyond

A target less than 52 percent from 2013 levels (50 percent from 2005 levels) is the minimum that Japan should deliver as the necessary step towards realizing its 2050 net zero target. As Climate Action Tracker put it: “the Japanese government did not fully live up to the expectations that it would commit to a 50% reduction target and join the club of global climate leaders.” As an innovative country, leading economy, and one of the largest contributors to climate change Japan can and should do more. Japan should also deliver a commitment to end overseas financing of coal, as South Korea announced at the climate summit.

The international community is confident that Japan can deliver emissions cuts by more than 50 percent in the coming months and year as it joins the leading countries in the world in committing to be over halfway to net zero by the end of this decade.

About the Authors

Jake Schmidt

Senior Strategic Director, International Climate, International Program
Blog Post

The fast-approaching Climate Summit hosted by President Biden offers a tremendous opportunity for some of the world’s biggest contributors to climate change to up their game, raise their climate commitment—and join the “50 Percent Club.” That is a group of countries committing to cut their emissions by at least half by 2030 on a path to net zero emissions no later than 2050. The U.S., Japan, Canada, and South Korea are poised for such a bold move. These countries must rise to the moment and commit to be halfway to net zero by the end of this decade.

Blog Post

Japan released a new policy on overseas coal-powered projects after facing criticism for the government’s promotion of new Japanese-supported coal plants overseas. While the policy is an acknowledgement that there are serious environmental health and climate damages from exporting coal-fired power plant technology, the loopholes in the new policy mean that new projects can still get support from the Japanese government. The government, and the private Japanese banks that are still co-financing many of the projects, will continue to face calls from communities worldwide to end support for coal.

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