What should Japan do?

1

Enhance its NDC to be 1.5 degree aligned by COP27:

Have immediate actions to be 1.5 degree aligned and do not rely on future “innovations”

  • Revise 2030 NDC to 62% and be clearer about the tangible transition pathway and market signals
  •  Promote actions to be 1.5 degree aligned and do not rely on future “innovations”.
  • Stop investing and subsidizing advanced fossil technology, including fossil ammonia and hydrogen.
  • Increase share of renewables 50% and phase out coal by 2030 and set a target and clear timeline for a zero emission electricity sector
  • Make housing and building efficiency standards mandatory
  • End ICE sales by 2035 including HV and PHEV
  • Support developing countries, including through climate finance
2

Build a just and resilient recovery plan:

  • Ensure fair electricity market to accelerate RE deployment
  • Provide support to people and communities affected by the energy transition
  • Stop public investment to fossil related projects
  • Do not rely on future “innovations” of carbon based technologies, but invest just transition with non-fossil fuel technologies

What you need to know about Japan?

  • Japan’s 2030 emissions reduction target is 46- 50 % below 2013 level. But 1.5°C compatible pathway would necessitate a reduction of over 60% below 2013 levels.
  • PV installment slows down due to the lack of incentive and market barriers. Promotion of renewable energy capabilities, in particular offshore wind is essential.
  • Decarbonizing transport requires a rapid transition from fossil fuel to electric vehicles (EVs) powered by renewable energy and the use of green hydrogen for heavy-duty transport.
  • Japan’s coal dependency is the highest in G7 countries (32% of electricity) and has no coal phase out plan. Japan’s approach of decarbonization in power sector is to use ammonia and hydrogen as alternatives of coal and gas. The promotion of fossil ammonia and hydrogen allows to prolong lifetime of coal power.
  • Industries, financial institutions, and local governments commit net zero and progressive businesses are calling for renewable energy expansion to 40-50% by 2030.
Recovery Measures to Highlight

  • Green recovery isn’t a mainstream discussion but investment for innovation including hydrogen, CCUS, nuclear, which could be used as an excuse to delay the actions

Recent developments, threats and levers for action

Recent developments

  • Japan remains more than 80% dependent on fossil fuels but renewable energy is catching up and accounted for 22% of Japan’s energy supplies in 2020.
  • The Sixth Strategic Energy Plan updated in Oct. 2021 has the target of energy mix for 2030 as: Renewable energy 36-38%, nuclear 20-22%, LNG 20%, coal 19%, oil 2%, hydrogen & ammonia 1%
  • Government agreed the packaged draft revision of several acts to accelerate decarbonization in March. That includes to categorize ammonia and hydrogen as “non fossil energy” and to promote CCUS. On the other hand, the government postpones the draft revision of the act for building efficiency regulation.
  • Clean Energy Strategy will be decided by cabinet to accelerate decarbonization in June. This will be another push for fossil based advanced technologies.
  • Carbon pricing discussion slows down due to the price hike of fossil fuel. The government is considering to introduce non-mandatory trading scheme.

Strengths

  • RE demands grow from business and local governments – aggregated demand could lead to cost reduction
  • With its high capacity and technologies, Japan is well placed to benefit from green transition if immediate actions are taken
  • Once the government set a target, industries and local governments follow

Opportunities

  • Japan has taken some commendable steps to green its financial system
  • Decarbonising transport requires a rapid transition from fossil fuel – Transport energy use is dominated by fossil fuels. The EV share in new car sales, which has been decreasing since 2017, is only 0.6%
  • Promotion of renewable energy capabilities – In 2020, Japan produced 32% of its electricity from coal, and another 36% from natural gas. While the country is planning to phase out old, inefficient coal-fired power plants by 2030, it also plans to build at least 10 GW of new coal-fired generation capacity, equal to about 22% of existing capacity, in the coming years. There will still be 50 units with a total capacity of 33 GW in 2030
  • Progressive business and investors voices growing
  • Local government voices growing
  • The public is feeling the changing climate and the associated risks

Weaknesses

  • Climate is very low on the political agenda
  • More emphasis towards future innovations and keeping the use of fossil fuel as core solution in achieving net zero by 2050
  • Small scale of public mobilization

Threats

  • ​Net zero language can be co-opted to enable utilization of fossil fuel ​
  • Too much reliance on unproven innovation and new technologies commercially available in the 2040s could delay much needed immediate transition ​
  • Continued strong support ​for​ ICE and hybrid cars

About Climate Diplomacy Snapshots

The data is clear. Accelerated and enhanced action is needed now to build resilience and avoid the worst impacts of climate change. As they seek to address the ongoing health, economic and social impacts of COVID-19, governments should seize opportunities to invest in a recovery that will build social, economic and climate resilience on the long-term.The Climate Diplomacy Snapshots aim to provide the climate community with a clear overview of what each country should do, on climate and recovery, to pursue these joint objectives and keep the global average temperature increase to 1.5°C. Each has been prepared with the help of national experts, and will be regularly updated. The snapshots aim to support climate advocacy in the lead up to COP26.

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