Japan ‘Almost Cheating’ with 2030 Greenhouse Gas Target
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has confirmed plans to reduce his country’s greenhouse gas emissions 26% by 2030 from 2013 levels, “a move likely to underwhelm activists and scientists,” Responding to Climate Change (RTCC) reported yesterday.
“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,” RTCC reports, attributing the modest target to Japan’s “greater reliance on fossil fuels” since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.
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Japanese officials claimed the country was still on track to reduce emissions 80% by 2050. But former chief climate negotiator Mutsuyoshi Nishimura told RTCC the country risked “losing relevancy” with its 2030 target. He described a 25% target as a “low figure for a country which has been working so hard in the international community to stop global warming.”
In its daily coverage of this week’s climate negotiations in Bonn, The Daily Tck reprised earlier criticisms of Japan’s target, with Greenpeace campaigner Hisayo Takada in Tokyo accusing Japan of “almost cheating” by basing its 26% reduction on a 2013 baseline year. “Using 2013 as a benchmark, Japan’s effort would appear more ambitious than European Union proposals,” Bloomberg’s Chisaki Watanabe reported April 30. “Using 1990 or 2005 as a base year would leave Japan trailing the pack of richer industrial nations working to rein in the pollution blamed for global warming.”
2013 was the year when Japan “recorded its second-highest emissions level ever as it burned more fossil fuels to replaced nuclear power it lost” after Fukushima.
“Japan’s weak ‘Intended Nationally Determined Contribution’ (UN parlance for offers that governments will put on the table ahead of the Paris climate talks) will further marginalize the country from its more climate-concerned neighbors,” the Daily Tck observed. “Japan’s misstep underscores the need for Bonn to move us toward ensuring the new climate agreement has a strong ‘ratchet mechanism’—baking in regular cycles of improvement that ensure all governments’ targets are frequently assessed and revised upward.”