Japan PM Abe unveils carbon cutting target

Asian country settles on 26% target cut on 2013 levels by 2030, in a move likely to underwhelm activists and scientists

Japan prime minister Shinzo Abe (Pic: OECD/Flickr)

Japan prime minister Shinzo Abe (Pic: OECD/Flickr)

By Alex Pashley

Japan prime minister Shinzo Abe announced his country’s planned curbs to greenhouse gas emissions on Tuesday, local media reported.

The Asian country intends to cut carbon by 26% by 2030 on 2013 levels and will submit the proposals to the UN in July, Abe said in a government meeting on climate change according to Kyodo news agency.

“This is an ambitious target which is in no way inferior to other countries internationally,” said Abe, AFP reported.

Almost 200 nations are posting emissions reduction plans as part of a UN global deal expected to be signed in a December summit in Paris.

The new carbon-cutting target, in line with recommendations made by a government-appointed panel in April, is only an 18% cut on the UN’s recommended baseline year of 1990.

It is set to underwhelm campaigners and researchers, who say Japan isn’t doing enough to help steer the world away from a 2C temperature rise by 2100.

Nuclear backseat

Nuclear energy’s lower profile in Japanese energy generation after 2011’s Fukushima disaster has seen a greater reliance on fossil fuels, skewering its carbon-cutting ambitions.

Atomic power made up 28% of its energy mix before a tsunami lashed the country’s coastline and caused a nuclear meltdown, shutting off all national reactors. Nuclear is forecast to power just 20-22% from 2030.

Renewables will rise to as much as 24%, according to a draft government report, with fossil fuels like imported liquefied natural gas making up the bulk of the country’s energy mix.

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But Japanese officials said the plans were consistent with its longer term goal of an 80% reduction by 2050 agreed with other major industrialised economies, Kyodo reported.

Last month, Japan’s former chief negotiator, Mutsuyoshi Nishimura told RTCC Japan risked “losing relevancy” on media reports it would target a 25% cut.

Nishimura said it was a “low figure for a country which has been working so hard in the international community to stop global warming.”

For long a climate leader and birthplace of the world’s only legally binding treaty to date, the Kyoto Protocol, the Fukushima disaster has knocked Japan’s clean energy pathway off course.

It led it in 2013 to slash in its 2020 target to just 3.8% from 2005 levels, after pledging an ambitious 25% reduction at the Copenhagen summit in 2009.

Japan is the world’s seventh top emitting bloc, and accounted for 2.7% of global emissions in 2010.

Abe plans to discuss Japan’s target at the Group of Seven summit in Germany this weekend.

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