March 30, 2020
Japan’s NDC Inaction Pours Cold Water on International Cooperation
Calls for open debate and resubmission of Japan’s target before COP 26
The Japanese government has decided to resubmit its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) on greenhouse gases reduction target to the UNFCCC secretariat under the Paris Agreement without making any upward revisions.
Since the current target for emission reductions by 2030 (26% below 2013 levels) does not match the target of the Paris Agreement, a wide ranging coalition of stakeholders, including NGOs (*1), youth group (*2), business and municipality related interest groups (*3) and international investor’s groups (*4) have called for the target to be raised. There has also been strong input from the international community. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the U. N., has made repeated calls for the target to be raised and the U.K. government, as a host of COP 26 in November of this year, has also requested the Japan government to increase its target. (*5) The Japanese government has paid no attention to these calls and there has been a lack of clear, open debate on the issue. Submitting this NDC with no upward revision is regrettable in the extreme.
The Japanese government states it will start to review its current Climate Action Plan that was finalized by the cabinet in May 2016, and the result of the review will be submitted to the UNFCCC. However, what is needed now is not the speedy resubmission of NDC but to initiate the necessary public debates for raising its ambitions.
This being both the year for implementation of the Paris Agreement and the first year for countries to reconsider their NDCs in order to preserve a sustainable global environment, makes it a very important year. Even if all signatory countries manage to achieve reduced emission levels in line with their original targets, the earth’s average temperature is predicted to rise 3 degrees celsius by the end of this century, which is much higher than the original target of 2 degrees. Moreover, according to the IPPC’s 2018 special report, Global Warming of 1.5 °C, at a level of between even 1.5 to 2 degrees the sea level is likely to rise and natural disasters increase, with more people suffering damage, resulting in more climate refugees and other major changes to ecosystems. Many countries have responded to this in earnest and have been revising their emission reduction targets upwards since the U.N. Climate Action Summit in September last year.
In order to achieve the target of 1.5 degrees, we are told it is necessary to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, which means reaching at least a 45% reduction over 2010 levels by 2030. As the country with the 5th highest CO2 emissions, Japan, with higher emission level per capita than either China or India which are above it in total emissions, has a huge responsibility to work to solve the climate crisis.
Although a major cause of world’s emission levels is said to be coal-fired power plants, Japan is still promoting construction of the plants both at home and overseas. Japan is facing criticism as once these plants are built, they will be in operation for several decades and cause great damage in terms of increased greenhouse gas emissions, not only in Japan but also in the countries they are being exported to.
If emissions continue at the current level it will bring about an irreversible vicious circle of increasing global warming at a huge cost for future generations.
Instead of putting a damper on the efforts of the international community, Japan must instigate a transparent process to raise its target and contribute to solving the climate crisis by immediately starting public discussions on the ideal energy mix and submit its revised target by COP 26.
*1: CAN-Japan Statement “The Japanese government should raise the target of greenhouse gas emission reduction; Japanese NGOs seek resubmission of NDC after a public consultation process” (January 23, 2020)
*2: Fridays for Future Tokyo “Urge the Japanese Government to raise its NDC” (January 27, 2020) [Japanese text only]
*3: Japan Climate Initiative “JCI’s statement to call on the Japanese Government for its NDC enhancement” (February 4, 2020) As of February 20th 248 members (159 companies, 25 municipalities and 64 other organizations) support this message, including AEON, Sony, Panasonic and municipalities such as Tokyo, Kanagawa, Nagano, Shiga, Mie and Kyoto Prefectures.
*4: Asia Investor Group on Climate Change (AIGCC) and others “Investors encourage Japanese Government to lift climate ambition with revised Paris pledge” (February 17, 2020)
*5 The Nihon Kezai Shimbun “The Paris Agreement, an Ambitious Target” John Murton UK Envoy to COP 26 (March 5, 2020) [Japanese text only]
For queries relating to this press release please contact:
Eri Watanabe, 350.org Japan
Email: [email protected]