What should Japan do?

1

Enhance its NDC to be 1.5 degree aligned by COP26:

  • Match net-zero GHG emissions by 2050 target with short and mid- term targets a tangible pathway to achieve them
  • Review the Fifth Strategic Energy Plan and revise emissions mix to increase share of renewables 50% and phase out coal by 2030
  • Revise GHG reduction target to 62% by 2030 and be clearer about the transition and the market signals
  • Stop overseas coal finance
  • Phase out coal by 2030 and set a target and clear timeline for a zero emission electricity sector
  • End ICE sales by 2035 including HV and PHEV
  • Support developing countries, including through climate finance
  • Do not rely on future “innovations”, better fossil fuel technologies (such as carbon capture and storage and other similar technologies), and technologies that could only reduce CO2 after 2030 to achieve net-zero (and short- and mid-term targets)
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 from fossil industries to clean business

What you need to know about Japan?

  • Japan’s current NDC is 26% reduction from 2013 level by 2030, electricity mix target is 26% coal, 20% nuclear, 22-24% renewables
  • Emission decreases 5 consecutive years since 2013 and emission in FY2018 is 12% decrease from 2013 level
  • On Monday 26 October 2020, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga pledged a new target for Japan to achieve net zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2050; marking a significant shift from the previous target of 80% emissions reduction by 2050
  • Non-state actors opened the way for this move through their own commitments and support for the government to send clear signals in this direction – including recent backing for the 2050 target from Japanese business federation Keidanren. A business coalition of more than 170 companies operating in Japan also welcomed the pledge
  • Business organizations are calling for renewable energy expansion in order to implement the 2050 net-zero pledge. These include Japan Association of Corporate Executives (Doyukai) who calls for 40% of renewable energy by 2030, and Japan Climate Leaders’ Partnership (JCLP) calls for 50% of renewable energy by 2030.
  • Energy mix and climate policy review started in the fall of 2020; this process – which is still ongoing – will determine the level of ambition of Japan’s NDC GHG emission reduction target
  • In order to implement the 2050 net-zero pledge, JCLP released a policy proposal to the government asking for a target of 50% of renewable energy to be in the energy mix by 2030. Keizai Doyukai proposed 40% renewables by 2030
  • REI released a scenario of at least 45% renewable, without coal/nuclear by 2030
  • The international coalition “No Coal Japan”, and Japan Beyond Coal, call for a 2030 coal phase-out and push to stop coal power in Japan and abroad
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 has recently pledged on 2050 Carbon Neutrality
  • The energy and climate policy review process which started in the fall of 2020 and is ongoing is a crucial moment for Japan to strengthen the NDC and policies and measures
  • RE share in electricity increased to 20% and very close to 2030 target already
  • There is buy in from Env. Minister Koizumi and Reform Minister Kono on expansion of RES and coal power restriction
  • Japan’s emissions have decreased over last 5 years and COVID impacts put Japan on track to meet the current GHG target more easily
  • Electricity Capacity Market is designed to subsidise idling nuclear power and old coal power capacity and that incentivises utilities to maintain those capacity, which is contradictory to the measures to shut down inefficient coal power units. This needs to be reviewed
  • The non-state actor movement is growing. 281 local governments including Tokyo, Kyoto, and Yokohama announced their commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Voices from progressive business led by JCLP growing with more than 170 companies, and conventional Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) also shifting towards “challenge zero”, 300+ endorsement from Japan on TCFD, and more than 50 Japanese companies committing to RE100. In the civil society, FFF Japan, Japan Beyond Coal, and CAN-Japan, are playing their role to increase voices and create momentum, though those are not big enough. Japan Climate Initiative (JCI) with 500+ signatories and Climate Emergency Network (CEN) launched in November 2020, both convenes Non-State Actors

Strengths

  • RE demands grow from business and local governments (aggregated demand signal could decrease cost)
  • Pressures from critical local and international voices on Japan’s policy work and could be a strong signal (especially from the new U.S. administration)

Opportunities

  • Business can gain benefit if shifting swiftly. Potential for offshore wind
  • Keidanren have supported 2050 Carbon Neutral
  • Progressive business voices growing
  • Non-State Actors voices growing
  • The public is feeling the changing climate and the associated risks

Weaknesses

  • Climate is very low on the political agenda.
  • Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) is infuential and leaning towards future innovations and keeping the use of fossil fuel as core solution in achieveing net zero by 2050
  • Public mobilization isn’t big

Threats

  • Electricity market reform could disincentivize RES and protect vested interests
  • Economic rivalry with China and S. Korea would lead sticking on coal technologies
  • Japan is pursuing CCUS and hydrogen that resonate with conventional industries
  • Through support of ICE hybrid cars, Japan is embracing an anti-EV stand
  • Net zero language can be co-opted to enable utilization of fossil fuel

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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