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HOME  > Past issues  > 2020 December 9 - 15  > On 5th anniv. of Paris accord, Japan should shift to full-scale expansion of use of renewables
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2020 December 9 - 15 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

On 5th anniv. of Paris accord, Japan should shift to full-scale expansion of use of renewables

December 12, 2020
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

Five years ago, on December 12, 2015, an international treaty dealing with climate change, the Paris Agreement, was adopted at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (COP21). However, each government’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions fall short of meeting the targets set under the Paris Agreement, aggravating the ongoing climate crisis. In order to prevent devastating consequences affecting the future of the planet, the urgent need now is for governments worldwide to fulfil their responsibility to take effective action. The Japanese government’s efforts to tackle climate change, which fail to come up to the global level, are also called into question.

The Paris Agreement sets a goal of holding the global average temperature increase to below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsious above pre-industrial levels. In addition, it was also decided that the amount of GHG emissions should be reduced to zero worldwide in the second half of this century.

Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide in his policy speech to the last ordinary Diet session promised to reduce GHG emissions to “net zero” by 2050. He, however, did not mention the current reduction target, a 26% cut from the 2013 level by 2030. This target is insufficient because if converting the benchmark year from 2013 to 1990, the international norm, the reduction would amount to only 18%. The Suga government should make an aggressive change in the 2030 emission target without delay. European nations seek a more than 50% cut from the 1990 level. The British government, for example, on December 4 announced that it aims to reduce emissions by at least 68% by 2030 from the 1990 level. The Japanese government should target at least a 40-50% cut.

The Suga government is sticking to coal-fired thermal power generation which often is criticized as a major source of GHG emissions. This is totally unacceptable. Regarding coal-fired power generation, the government is reluctant to cancel the planned construction of new coal-fired power plants. It also shows no intention to abolish or shut down the existing facilities systematically. The government plans to maintain and promote operations of high-efficiency coal-fired power plants. The government has set new standards regarding public support for exports of coal-fired power generation technologies, but the new standards are full of loopholes. It is unacceptable for the government to take an attitude which runs counter to international efforts aiming for zero carbon emissions.

The government should now introduce a policy expanding the use of renewable energy sources. The current basic energy policy, which was decided in 2018, sets a 22-24% target for the renewable share to total domestic power generation. The government should change the current target to a much higher one. Establishing rules for environment conservation, the government should introduce a policy contributing to a drastic increase in the use of renewable energy. It is unacceptable for the government to use “achieving a carbon free society” as an excuse to maintain support for nuclear power generation. It should change its energy policy fundamentally.

Past related articles:
> Koike in Diet interpellation presses PM Suga to depart from support for coal-fired power generation [October 31, 2020]
> JCP Tamura: Gov’t should abandon coal-fired thermal power generation [July 4, 2020]
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