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Japan Targets Carbon Neutrality by 2050

Japan Targets Carbon Neutrality by 2050
Japan's Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide poses for a portrait on September 14, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan, after being elected Liberal Democratic Party President. Nicolas Datiche / Pool / Getty Images

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced that Japan will become country carbon neutral by 2050, Bloomberg reported.

As the world's third-largest economy, this will require a "fundamental shift" away from coal, The Washington Post reported.

Suga replaced former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe last month, after he resigned due to health issues. This was Suga's first parliament policy speech since taking office.

He announced, "The Suga administration will seek to make a virtuous cycle between the economy and the environment," Bloomberg reported. "We will put all possible efforts into creating a green society."

Additionally, "Responding to climate change is no longer a constraint on economic growth," The Washington Post reported from Suga's speech. "We need to change our thinking to the view that taking assertive measures against climate change will lead to changes in industrial structure and the economy that will bring about great growth."

However, Suga did not offer any details about how carbon neutrality will be achieved, although he referenced carbon recycling and next generation solar cells. The Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshi Kajiyama told reporters that more details will be presented in a report later this year, according to Bloomberg, including wind energy, hydrogen and improved battery storage.

The move follows commitments from other major economies responsible for an outsized share of greenhouse gas emissions, including the world's largest emitter, China. China has set a 2060 target for carbon neutrality. Japan is the world's fifth-largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, according to The New York Times.

Japanese policy experts believe a number of factors drove the announcement, including mounting pressure from inside Japan to tackle the climate crisis, plus international competition. It would be "somewhat embarrassing for Japan to have a net zero emissions timeline later than China," Takeshi Kuramochi, a climate policy researcher at the NewClimate Institute told The New York Times.

Sam Annesley, executive director of Greenpeace Japan, added that sustainability should also include a move away from nuclear power. "Nearly 10 years on from Fukushima we are still facing the disastrous consequences of nuclear power, and this radioactive legacy has made clear that nuclear energy has no place in a green, sustainable future," The Guardian reported.

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