On October 26, 2020, at the 203rd Extraordinary Diet Session, Prime Minister Suga delivered his first policy speech since taking office. One of the eight pillars of the speech was about the “realization of a green society,” and Suga pledged that “Japan will reduce total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to zero by 2050, and “aim for the realization of a carbon-neutral, decarbonized society by 2050.” He also declared that Japan would fundamentally change its existing coal policy, stating, “We will fundamentally shift our long-standing policy on coal-fired power generation.”
As many other developed countries have declared plans for zero carbon emissions in 2050, Japan has finally joined the rest of the world and is now at the starting point to work toward the goals of the Paris Agreement. While environmental NGOs and others welcome Suga’s statement, they have also called for deepening GHG emission reductions by at least 45-50% in order to be consistent with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5°C, introducing concrete policy measures to ensure zero carbon emissions by 2050, and a swift phase-out of coal-fired power. To be consistent with its plan, Japan must cancel the 17 coal-fired power plants currently planned or under construction, such as those in Kobe and Yokosuka. Construction plans for coal-fired power units must all be re-examined immediately.
The complete coal phase-out by 2030 that Japan Beyond Coal aims for is a crucial step in Japan’s path to a carbon-neutral 2050.