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Japan—Falling Behind

The Japanese Government submitted their INDC (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Japan pledged to reduce greenhouse gases by 26 % below 2013 levels, by 2030. In order to achieve this promise, the Japanese Cabinet approved the Global Warming Countermeasure Plan on May 2016. However, Japan’s target level is much lower than that of the EU in terms of the reduction rate to its 1990 level. In the assessment by Climate Action Tracker, the Japanese reduction target was regarded as “Inadequate” and is not consistent with the Paris Agreement goal to keep global warming below 1.5 degree Celsius.

The most dominant factor influencing Japanese greenhouse gas emissions is electricity powered by fossil fuel. After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan shut down all nuclear plants, which resulted in an increased use of fossil fuels for electricity generation. After Fukushima, the government’s focus on climate change has diminished, while there has been an increased policy focus on energy security and economic growth.

Ken Sofer, Senior Policy Advisor, Center for American Progress, observes that Japan’s national policy for climate change is prone to prioritize energy security and economic growth rather than climate change itself. What is important in climate change policy in Japan is to raise its priority in the political context. Recently, the Japanese Government has focused on raising salaries of working people and improving the standard of living. Climate change has been minimized as a policy priority. The government has yet to make the connection between investing in climate change mitigation and economic prosperity.

Learn More

Takashi Morimoto, 2016:  Global Agenda, No.128

Ken Sofer, 2016: Climate Politics in Japan, Sasakawa USA Forum Issue No. 1


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