In the heart of Japan, Toyama City stands as a shining example of sustainable urban development. With a population of 406,900 in October 2023 (Toyama City Homepage), this city, nestled between the Tateyama Mountain Range and the Sea of Japan, is at the forefront of combating climate change through innovative and effective strategies.
Zero Carbon City Initiatives and CO2 Reduction Targets
Toyama City is working towards becoming a Zero Carbon City. This involves a comprehensive energy policy that includes expanding renewable energy, promoting energy conservation, and collaborating with various stakeholders. Toyama City was selected by the Japanese government as an “Environmental Model City” in 2008 and an “SDGs Future City” and “Municipal SDGs Model Project” in 2018. By 2030, Toyama aims to reduce emissions by 46% compared to 2013 levels. The long-term goal is to achieve virtually zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Compact City Development
Toyama’s approach to sustainability is centred around its ‘Compact City’ model, which was initiated in 2005 in order to cope with a declining and ageing population and high dependence on automobile transportation (Toyama City, 2023). This urban planning strategy focuses on centralizing development around the city center and public transit hubs. The goal is to minimize long-distance travel and reduce reliance on private vehicles. For example, the LRT opened in 2006, and the loop line of the city tram opened in 2009. This approach has led to a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and revitalized the city’s core. Public transport usage increased, especially the number of passengers using the city’s trains, from about 10,000/day in 2005 to about 20,000/day in 2019, illustrating a gradual shift from private vehicle dependency (Toyama City, 2021).
Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
Toyama’s commitment to renewable energy is evident in its ambitious goals. The city aims to double its renewable energy capacity by 2030 and increase it fivefold by 2050 compared to 2021. The renewable energy types to be introduced and expanded in Toyama City are solar power, small and medium-sized hydroelectric power, and biomass power, which have an enormous potential for introduction, and the public and private sectors will work together to promote these efforts. Alongside this, Toyama is also focusing on energy efficiency. Toyama City will promote the improvement of thermal insulation performance in buildings, the spread and development of energy-saving equipment that improves energy use efficiency, including EMS (Energy Management Systems), storage batteries, fuel cells, and CGS1 (cogeneration systems), and the introduction and expansion of ZEB (Net Zero Energy Building) and ZEH (Net Zero Energy House), which improve energy consumption balance in buildings. In order to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, approximately 2.66 million tons of greenhouse gasses must be reduced, of which approximately 0.94 million tons will be reduced through the promotion of renewable energy and 1.03 million tons through the promotion of energy conservation (Toyama City, 2023). The city is also promoting waste reduction and recycling as part of its efforts to reduce CO2 emissions. And Toyama leverages its natural forests for carbon sequestration, contributing significantly to offsetting carbon emissions. These measures in public facilities and broader community engagement contribute significantly to lowering emissions.
Toyama City has implemented several policies and actions that have reduced CO2 emissions. At the end of the fiscal year 2021, Toyama City achieved a 21% reduction compared to 2013 levels (Ministry of Environment, 2022). The total CO2 emissions reduced from 4.96 million t-CO2 in 2013 to 4.07 million t-CO2 in 2019. In terms of emissions by sector in FY2013 (base year), the industrial sector had the highest emissions (1.73 million t-CO2), followed by the consumer and household sector (0.99 million t-CO2), the transportation sector (0.91 million t-CO2), and the consumer and business sector (0.85 million t-CO2). In FY 2019, greenhouse gas emissions by sector decreased by approximately 20% in the industrial sector, 20% in the consumer and household sectors, and 26% in the consumer and business sectorsz.
Toyama’s Continued Commitment to Sustainability
As Toyama City strides forward in its environmental endeavors, the road ahead is not without challenges. The city must navigate the complexities of balancing rapid technological advancements with the preservation of its rich cultural heritage. It will be crucial to adapt to the evolving needs of its ageing population while continuing to attract and retain younger generations. Moreover, Toyama must stay vigilant in its climate actions, ensuring its ambitious goals for a Zero Carbon City are met amidst the ever-changing global environmental landscape. The journey is ongoing, but Toyama’s commitment to a sustainable future remains unwavering.
Submitted by Japan Country Manager Kazuya Takeda
Ministry of the Environment (2022). Status of formulation of plans, etc.- Toyama city. https://www.env.go.jp/policy/local_keikaku/sakutei2/16/16201.html
Toyama City Homepage. https://www.city.toyama.lg.jp/
Wikipedia. Toyama City. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toyama_(city)
Toyama City (2021). Toyama City Regional Public Transportation Network Formation Plan. https://www.city.toyama.lg.jp/_res/projects/default_project/_page_/001/006/320/moukeiseikeikaku2021.pdf.
Toyama City (2023). Toyama City Global Warming Countermeasures Promotion Plan. https://www.city.toyama.lg.jp/_res/projects/default_project/_page_/001/005/150/suishinkeikaku202303.pdf.
Image Source: Toyama City Homepage
Image Source: Wikipedia