With the latest NDC submitted on 22 October 2021, Japan aims to achieve a 46% (50% as aspirational target) emissions reduction by 2030 below 2013 levels. The CAT rates this target as “almost sufficient” when compared to required domestic efforts, and “insufficient” when compared to Japan’s fair share.
|JAPAN — Main climate targets|
|2030 unconditional NDC target|
|Formulation of target in NDC||
46% reduction in 2030 from 2013 levels including LULUCF credits*
*Japan continues to use a gross-net approach, meaning that Japan does not include the LULUCF sector in its base year (gross) but accounts for net emissions and removals from LULUCF for the target year (net). Japan intends to use LULUCF sink credits up to 47.7 MtCO2e/year.
Taking the sector and gas-specific target values in the NDC, this reduces the effectiveness of the 2030 goal from a 46% reduction below 2013 levels including LULUCF to 42% excluding LULUCF. Such an accounting approach undermines the purpose of the Paris Agreement, as it allows for more energy and industry emissions, and should be scrutinised.
Absolute emissions level in 2030
[36% below 1990]
[38% below 2010]
|Status||Submitted on 22/10/2021|
|Net zero & other long-term targets|
|Formulation of target||Carbon neutrality by 2050|
Absolute emissions level in 2050
|Status||Submitted on 22/10/2021|
Japan has not updated its NDC since the major update submitted in October 2021.
In the most recent update submitted on 22 October 2021, Japan strengthened its target to a 46% (42% excluding LULUCF) reduction in 2030 below 2013 levels from the previous 26% target. This would lead to absolute emissions of 813 MtCO2e/year, compared to 1079 MtCO2e/year with the previous target (sum of sector- and gas-level targets), both excluding LULUCF (Government of Japan, 2021b). The government plans to investigate additional measures that could lead to a 50% reduction.
|JAPAN — History of NDC updates||First NDC||2021 NDC Update|
|JAPAN||First NDC||2021 NDC Update|
|Formulation of target in NDC||26% below 2013 levels in 2030||
46% below 2013 levels in 2030
(50% as aspirational target)
Absolute emissions level
|1079 MtCO2e by 2030||813 MtCO2e by 2030|
Emissions compared to 1990 and 2010
15% below 1990 emissions by 2030
17% below 2010 emissions by 2030
36% below 1990 emissions by 2030
38% below 2010 emissions by 2030
NDC target against modelled domestic pathways:
NDC target against fair share:
|Separate target for LULUCF||
|Gas coverage||All greenhouse gases||All greenhouse gases|
|Target type||Absolute emissions reduction (single year target, or from a base year)||Absolute emissions reduction (single year target, or from a base year)|
* Before September 2021, all CAT ratings were based exclusively on fair share and only assessed a country’s target
Target development timeline & previous CAT analysis
- 21.11.2019 “Japan’s reluctance to update its NDC - media reports”
- 30.03.2020 “Japan’s updated NDC fails to increase action, undermines Paris Agreement”
- 01.09.2020 “Japan’s revised NDC expected in 2021 will be a test for the nation’s seriousness on its 2050 net zero goal and its consistency with the Paris Agreement”
- 03.2021 “Japan’s Paris Agreement target should be more than 60% by 2030 – analysis”
- 22.04.2021 “Japan's new target a significant step, but more needed”
- 22.10.2021 “Japan submitted a stronger NDC target”
CAT rating of targets
Japan has indicated that it may use market mechanisms to achieve its target, but has not provided sufficient details on the extent of such usage. In the absence of the clarity on the extent of usage, we have rated its NDC target against both domestic and fairness metrics.
The CAT rates the proposed 2030 reduction target of 46% (42% excluding LULUCF credits) 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 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 NDC 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 reductions 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
Further information on how the CAT rates countries (against modelled domestic pathways and fair share) can be found here.
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 further accelerate commitments to increase climate finance and stop funding fossil fuel overseas.
We rate 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 further accelerate commitments to increase climate finance and stop funding fossil fuel overseas.
Japan reports significant levels of climate finance, but only a small share takes the form of grants or has climate as a primary objective (OECD, 2022). Japan also counts 50% of broader development projects as climate finance–- even though they are explicitly defined as not primarily targeting climate action (Carty & Kowalzig, 2022). The CAT accounted for these factors and the resulting finance considered in this rating is considerably lower than originally reported by the government.
Japan has contributed to the achievement of the USD 100bn goal yearly until 2020 and commits ‘to maintain the same level of amount beyond 2020’. However, it is important to note that the USD 100bn goal itself is insufficient post-2020. A clear and sustained increase in international climate mitigation finance is thus fundamental in the post-2020 period. In this sense, it is positive that Prime Minister Kishida committed at COP26 to add USD 10bn for climate finance in general and USD 14.8bn for climate adaptation in particular (Reynolds, 2021). But more support is necessary.
Japan is still investing in international fossil fuel projects but is gradually moving away from this. At the G7 summit in 2021 and 2022, Japan joined the commitment to end new public finance of unabated coal power by the end of 2021, and of other fossil projects by the end of 2022 (G7, 2021, 2022). While Japan accordingly cancelled its involvement in the coal power projects in Indonesia and Bangladesh (Nikkei Asia, 2022b), the country is still one of the largest investors in fossil fuels abroad including its support for international oil and gas upstream developments (Christoph Bals, 2022; Kumagai, 2022).
In March 2023, Japan officially launched the Asia Zero Emissions Community (AZEC) initiative, a cooperation framework to help Asian countries ensure energy security while striving towards decarbonisation (METI, 2023b).
Under the initiative, Japan will support countries in drawing up roadmaps for energy transitions and help them develop and implement “decarbonisation technologies”. However, these seem to also include carbon, capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technologies and hydrogen & ammonia co-firing, as ways to curb emissions in coal fired power plants and gas-fired turbines/boilers (METI, 2023g). While these technologies have a role to play in the transition to net zero, they should only be used in hard-to-abate sectors, certainly not in the power sector, and particularly not as tools designed to curb emissions in coal-fired power plants.
Through the AZEC initiative, Japan is also pushing for further development of LNG infrastructure in the region, as the government seeks to position fossil gas as a transitional fuel (METI, 2023a). However, such investment would further contribute to locking-in carbon-intensive developments: fossil gas needs to be phased out, globally, by only a few years after coal, to keep warming to 1.5˚C
Further information on the CAT climate finance ratings can be found here.
Net zero and other long-term target(s)
We evaluate Japan’s net zero target as: “Poor”
Japan’s 2050 net-zero target was published in October 2020, which was subsequently integrated into the amended Promotion Act of Global Warming Countermeasures in 2021 (Government of Japan, 2021a). The Green Growth Strategy was accordingly revised in June 2021 to provide further information on sector-level roadmaps towards net zero, which was reflected on Japan’s updated Long Term Strategy submitted before COP26 (Government of Japan, 2021c).
However, these documents still lack several details on key elements that ensure effectiveness and transparency of net zero targets and have room for further improvement. For this reason, the CAT rates Japan’s net zero target as “Poor”.
For our full Japan net zero analysis click here.