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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 September 25 - October 1  > Abe gov't should meet the demand of the young to find solutions to climate crisis
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2019 September 25 - October 1 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Abe gov't should meet the demand of the young to find solutions to climate crisis

September 26, 2019

Akahata editorial

The UN Climate Action Summit 2019 took place on September 23 at the UN Headquarters in NYC to advance climate action, and 77 member states expressed their commitment to achieve "net zero" greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. The number is still insufficient to curb global warming to within 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels by the end of this century, but as UN Secretary General Guterres said, "The world is waking up" and "Momentum is growing".

During the UN climate session, no opportunity was given to the Japanese government to speak. It had no presence at all in the assembly hall. The Abe-led Japanese government is unwilling to raise its reduction target, coming under increasing criticism from the international community.

Don't fail future generations!

At the opening of the summit, 16-year-old Swedish environment activist Greta Thunberg who inspired young climate strikers' "Fridays for Future" actions and advanced the movement on a worldwide scale delivered an emotional speech to global leaders which received a great response from the world. She said, "The eyes of future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you. We will not let you get away with this."

The new framework for tackling global warming, the "Paris Agreement", will officially commence in 2020. The objective of this accord is to hold the increase in global average temperature to well below 2C above preindustrial levels or as close to 1.5C as possible. However, according to a report the UN released on September 22, global average temperature and the amount of CO2 emissions reached a record high. To overcome the crisis, serious efforts by all countries are essential. During the climate summit, many countries one after another expressed their intent to set a more ambitious target to achieve the Paris Agreement goal or take tougher measures to fight against climate change. This is very reflective of international public opinion as well as the demand of the youth of the world.

On the other hand, U.S. President Donald Trump, who decided to withdraw the United States from the Paris accord, left the venue of the summit without giving a speech only ten minutes after showing up. This again highlighted Trump’s unwillingness to cooperate in the global challenge. The Japanese government’s attitude should also be criticized. Prime Minister Abe Shinzo failed to attend and sent Environment Minister Koizumi Shinjiro to the summit. Such an attitude is inconsistent with Abe’s remark at the Group of 20 Summit meeting in Osaka in June that Japan will exercise strong leadership in tackling climate change. It is said that Japan was not given an opportunity to speak at the meeting because it refuses to increase its GHG reduction target.

Japan has not yet officially withdrawn its promise in 2016 to slash its CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050. However, Japan’s reduction target for 2030 is only a 26% cut from the 2013 level, which is the lowest among major nations.

The Abe Cabinet in June adopted a long-term strategy to fight against climate change, but the strategy only states that Japan will work to reduce its carbon emissions to zero on a net basis as early as possible in the second half of this century.

No need for empty speeches

The international community is disgusted by Japan’s attitude toward coal-fired thermal power generation, which is far more carbon intensive than other technologies to generate electricity. The Abe government has approved plans to build such power plants not only in Japan but provides financial support to overseas projects to construct those facilities in other countries.

Under the basic energy plan which the government drew up in July last year, coal-fired thermal power plants will generate 26% of electricity in 2030. This targeted share is lower than that of renewables, 22-24%. The Abe government should withdraw the basic energy plan and drastically review the long-term strategy to combat climate change.

If the Japanese government keeps repeating what Greta called “empty words” without presenting any concrete countermeasures, Japan will be an example of disgrace to the international community and future generations.
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