There have been few new developments since our last major update in September 2021 that would significantly reduce emissions in Japan by 2030. Japan needs to further accelerate its low-carbon transition, particularly as a member of the G7 group, which recently committed in June 2022 to achieve fully or predominantly decarbonised electricity by 2035 and to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025.
Japan’s latest NDC, last updated in October 2021, remains “Insufficient”. It aims for a 46% emissions reduction by 2030 below 2013 levels (and 50% as an aspirational target). While this is a significant step forward from the previous 26% reduction target, it still falls short of the more than 60% reduction that a CAT analysis estimated as 1.5°C-compatible.
One new policy that may contribute to significant additional reductions, though its effects would only take place in the long-term, is the revision of building standards by which all new houses and buildings will need to comply with upgraded energy efficiency standards from 2025 onwards. Additionally, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government plans to mandate majority of new houses and buildings in Tokyo to install solar panels from 2025.
The role of nuclear power in Japan’s future energy mix remains uncertain, though Prime Minister Fumio Kishida recently signalled to make a political push to not only restart currently idled reactors but also to build new reactors in the future.
While gradually moving away, Japan still appears wedded to coal-fired power, and seems intent on measures that would increase efficiency, co-fire ammonia, and use CCS. It also remains to be seen whether Japan will stop its public financing of fossil fuel projects overseas: critical for decarbonising the global economy.
Without additional measures, Japan’s current policies and actions will lead to emission levels of 28% to 33% below 2013 levels in 2030, excluding LULUCF. This falls short of Japan’s NDC target, let alone 60% below 2013 levels which we estimate as 1.5°C-compatible.
The CAT rates Japan’s climate targets, policies and finance as “Insufficient”. The “Insufficient” rating indicates that Japan’s climate policies and commitments need substantial improvements to be consistent with the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C temperature limit.
We rate Japan’s 2030 emissions reduction target as “Almost sufficient” as it is almost 1.5°C compatible when compared to modelled domestic emissions pathways. We rate Japan’s overall fair-share contribution (i.e. the NDC target and Japan’s climate finance abroad) as “Insufficient”. Japan’s contribution to mitigation abroad through climate finance alone is highly insufficient. Japan should both increase its emissions reduction targets and provide additional, predictable, finance to others and stop financing fossils abroad to meet its fair-share contribution. To achieve its target, Japan would need to enhance its current policies and actions.
The CAT rates Japan’s policies and action as “Insufficient”. The “Insufficient” rating indicates that Japan’s climate policies and action need substantial improvements to be consistent with the 1.5 °C temperature limit. If all countries were to follow Japan’s approach, warming would reach over 2°C and up to 3°C.
We project that Japan’s implemented policies will lead to emission levels of 28% to 33% below 2013 levels in 2030, excluding LULUCF, falling short of its latest NDC target to achieve 46% (42% excluding LULUCF credits) below 2013 levels. Without additional measures, Japan will likely miss its NDC target, let alone the 60% reduction below 2013 levels which we estimate as 1.5 °C-compatible.
Japan is finally starting to officially shift, albeit gradually, away from developing coal power, both domestically and overseas. The 19% coal-fired power generation share in 2030 is, even though far from being 1.5°C-consistent, a considerable step forward compared to earlier plans. However, the government’s focus on improving coal-fired power plant efficiency, co-firing plants with ammonia, and introducing the as-yet-unviable carbon capture and storage, are all distractions from the need for it to phase out coal-fired power by 2030 at the latest. Two new coal-fired plants have just begun operating, and six more are planned.
It also remains to be seen whether Japan will stop financing international fossil fuel projects, despite committing to end public financing for coal projects by the end of 2021 and for other fossil fuel projects by the end of 2022. The private sector is shifting, albeit slowly, and the country’s three largest banks remain the world’s top three lenders for global coal projects.
For renewables, a new feed in tariff and increased funding for distribution networks has seen a jump in solar (PV) installations, but other renewables such as wind energy are still slow to pick up. This may change, as the first auction for three large-scale offshore wind projects (1.7 GW in total) was won by Mitsubishi Corporation-led business consortia at a far lower tariff than the ceiling price set by the government, sending a strong signal that offshore wind can be competitive.
The full policies and action analysis can be found here.
The CAT rates the currently planned 2030 reduction target of 46% (42% excluding LULUCF) below 2013 levels as “Almost sufficient” when compared to modelled domestic emissions pathways. The “Almost sufficient” rating indicates that Japan’s proposed target in 2030 is not yet consistent with the 1.5 °C temperature limit but could be, with moderate improvements. If all countries were to follow Japan’s approach, warming could be held at—but not well below—2°C.
The CAT’s assessment of Japan’s total fair share contribution takes into account its emissions reduction target and its climate finance.
The CAT rates Japan’s 2030 reduction target of 46% (42% excluding LULUCF credits) below 2013 levels as “Insufficient” when compared with its fair-share emissions allocation. The “Insufficient” rating indicates that Japan’s fair share target in 2030 needs substantial improvement to be consistent with the 1.5°C temperature limit.
Some of these improvements should be made to the domestic emissions target itself, others could come in the form of additional financial support for emissions reduction in developing countries. Japan’s target is not consistent with the 1.5°C limit unless other countries make much deeper reductions and comparably greater effort. If all countries were to follow Japan’s approach, warming would reach up to 3°C.
The CAT rates Japan’s international public climate finance contributions as “Highly insufficient”. Japan remains committed to climate finance in the period post-2020 but contributions to date have been very low compared to its fair share. To improve its rating Japan needs to stop funding fossil fuel overseas and accelerate commitments to increase climate finance.
Japan’s climate finance is not sufficient to improve the fair share target rating, and the CAT rates Japan’s overall fair share contribution as “Insufficient”.
The CAT evaluates Japan’s net zero target as “poor” because Japan does not provide sufficient details on key elements that ensure effectiveness and transparency of net zero targets.
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