【News】 Climate Action Tracker assesses Japan’s climate policy as “Insufficient”

On November 30, 2023, Climate Action Tracker (CAT), an international environmental think tank, updated its analysis and assessment of Japan’s climate change policies and measures.

The overall assessment of Japan’s measures to achieve the Paris Agreement’s 1.5°C target was rated as “Insufficient”, and in the sectoral assessment, Climate Finance was rated “Highly Insufficient”.

In its assessment, CAT referred to the “Basic Policy for the Realization of GX” (GX Basic Policy) approved by the Japanese government’s Cabinet in February 2023, citing the following issues:

  • The policy places more emphasis on economic growth and energy security, rather than prioritising ambitious decarbonisation efforts.
  • The strategy provides no details on the expected emission reductions for 2030 and 2050.
  • Late introduction and low carbon prices in the carbon pricing scheme envisioned by the government will not be effective in reducing Japan’s emissions.
  • Japan continues to promote so called “clean coal” technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) and ammonia / hydrogen co-firing despite their numerous technical and cost issues
  • Restarting or building new nuclear power plants includes many regulatory and political hurdles and will not contribute to achieving the 2030 reduction target.

Additionally, many of Japan’s policies were also assessed as being inconsistent with the 1.5°C target, including Japan’s efforts to extend so-called “innovative” technologies to ASEAN countries through the Asian Zero Emissions Community (AZEC) concept, Japan’s opposition to the phase-out of coal-fired power generation by 2030 at the 2023 G7 Summit, and Japan’s continuation of overseas LNG development projects.

Japan’s frequent use of terms such as “clean coal,” “green transformation,” “electrified vehicles,” and “clean hydrogen” in policy documents is criticized as misleading and greenwashing to mask Japan’s continued reliance on fossil fuels.

Without additional measures, Japan’s current policies and actions will lead to emission levels of 31% to 37% below 2013 levels in 2030 (excluding land use, land-use change and forestry). This falls short of Japan’s NDC target, let alone 60% below 2013 levels in 2030 CAT estimates as 1.5 C-compatible. To improve its climate action, CAT recommends Japan do the following:

  • Commit to a full coal phase-out by 2030.
  • Stop public financing of fossil fuel projects overseas and stop the international promotion of technologies related to “clean coal”.
  • Give priority to the scale-up of renewable energy capacity and strengthen related targets in the upcoming Strategic Energy Plan.
  • Strengthen its EV target to phase out all fossil-fuel passenger (ICE) cars from new sales by 2035.

Related Links

Climate Action Tracker: Country summary-Japan (Link)