Tokyo, Japan, 26 October 2020 – In his first policy speech at the opening of an extraordinary Diet session on Oct. 26, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pledged a cut in greenhouse-gas emissions in Japan to net zero by 2050.

Sam Annesley, Greenpeace Japan’s Executive Director says:

“We welcome this statement from Prime Minister Suga, affirming Japan’s commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. If Japan and the rest of the world are to avoid the catastrophic effects of the climate crisis, it is precisely this kind of action that the world needs.

However this statement comes with an obligation for action, and if this rhetoric is to be made reality, this commitment must have policy to match. As Japan looks to revise its Basic Energy Plan and energy pathway to 2030, this revision must reflect net zero by 2050. Nearly 10 years on from Fukushima we are still facing the disastrous consequences of nuclear power, and this radioactive legacy has made clear that nuclear energy has no place in a green, sustainable future. If we are to achieve net zero by 2050, we must massively increase Japan’s renewable energy capacity, with a target of 50% renewable electricity by 2030. Anything less than 50% and Japan risks falling short of net zero, and more importantly risks driving the world above 1.5 degrees as per the Paris Agreement.

The Basic Energy Plan is the blueprint to steer Japan on a path to a greener future, and in order to make this future truly sustainable, just, and based on the principles of circular economy, this requires tangible and ambitious mid-term goals. We have every economic, environmental, and ethical reason to make carbon neutrality by 2050 a reality, and we trust that the government will not waste this opportunity.”

Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director of Greenpeace International says:

“Carbon neutrality is no longer a lofty, faraway dream, but a necessary commitment in line with the Paris Agreement, and in that light we welcome this statement by Prime Minister Suga. This follows soon after a commitment to net zero before 2060 from President Xi Jinping of China, showing change in Asia towards carbon neutrality, and a fundamental shift in the way in which we organise our societies. This new commitment presents an opportunity for Japan to update its NDC under the Paris Agreement, and also leaves South Korea as the only major North-East Asian economy without a net zero commitment.

A carbon neutral future brings with it a myriad of opportunities, challenges and tasks for the present, starting with moving away from the carbon intensive industries that have driven much of Japan and Asia’s development. Committing to net zero by 2050 means not building new domestic coal power plants and exporting coal technology – planned plants must be cancelled. The automotive, steel, and heavy industries will face serious challenges in a carbon neutral future and must not be propped up with fossil-based hydrogen. But in the spirit of Minister Kajiyama’s recent words during Beyond Zero Week, carbon neutrality offers an opportunity for the businesses of Japan and Asia to drive innovation towards a green future. In particular this means a massive industrial push for wind and solar energy. The opportunity to lead is theirs to take, and we expect that these iconic industries will innovate, develop, and grow in line with the net zero future Asia is heading towards.”