Japan's new target a significant step, but more needed
Japan’s updated 2030 Paris Agreement target of reducing emissions by 46% below 2013 levels and to continue its challenge towards a 50% reduction is a significant step up from its current 26% reduction target.
However, the Japanese government did not fully live up to the expectations that it would commit to a 50% reduction target and join the club of global climate leaders. This weaker-than-expected target may also put Japan in a disadvantageous position in a global economy that will be driven by the race to net zero emissions.
The next crucial step in the coming months is for the Japanese Government to develop a new Basic Energy Plan that is consistent with this new 46% target, including a roadmap to phase out coal-fired power plants and accelerate renewable power capacity deployment, as well as implement necessary transformational measures in all energy end-use sectors. The Japanese government is also expected to investigate possible measures to achieve 50% emissions reductions.
On 22 April 2021, Prime Minister (PM) Yoshihide Suga announced a new 2030 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target, revising Japan’s target from a 26% GHG reduction below 2013 levels to a 46% reduction by 2030, and to continue its challenge towards a 50% reduction.
The newly-announced 2030 climate target will be submitted later this year as an updated nationally determined contribution (NDC), likely following the revision of the nation’s Basic Energy Plan which will lay out sector-level implementation plans to achieve the new target.
CAT analysis of NDC announcement
Japan’s new 2030 climate target is a significant step up from its previous 26% target and sets the country onto a more sustainable pathway to reducing emissions to meet its long-term target - announced in October 2020 - of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In absolute terms, the new target reduces Japan’s 2030 GHG emissions by at least 0.28 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent compared to its previous 26% target.
However, as noted in our recent brief, a 1.5°C-compatible benchmark for Japan would be to reduce its emissions by 62% below 2013 levels by 2030. The new target falls short of this ambitious benchmark, based on 1.5°C pathways with no or low overshoot, and also does not fully live up to the international expectations that Japan would clearly commit to a 50% reduction target and join the club of global climate leaders.
The next crucial step is for the Japanese Government to develop the new Basic Energy Plan that is consistent with the 46% target. Particularly important is the 2030 electricity mix—we expect a roadmap to phase out coal-fired power plants and accelerate renewable power capacity deployment. Implementation of transformational measures in all energy end-use sectors (industry, transport, buildings) would also be essential. The Japanese government is also expected in this process to investigate possible measures to achieve 50% emissions reductions.