Japan’s prime minister had announced an ambitious new target for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, hours before he was to join a virtual climate summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden
Japan has been under pressure from environmental groups and European countries to do more than its earlier target of 26%.
During a visit to Washington last week, Suga agreed to cooperate in leading global efforts to reduce carbon emissions by promoting clean energy technologies and implementing the 2015 Paris climate accord.
Progress toward reducing reliance on fossil fuels in Japan has been hindered by the prolonged closures of most of its nuclear plants after the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in 2011.
Japan’s current energy plan, set in 2018, calls for 22-24% of its energy to come from renewables, 20-22% from nuclear power, and 56% from fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and gas.
Energy experts are discussing revisions to the plan for 2030 and 2050. The 2050 emissions-free target would require drastic changes and likely prompt calls for more nuclear plant restarts.
About 40% of Japan’s carbon emissions come from power companies. Experts say they must use more renewable energy sources while stepping up the development of technologies using hydrogen, ammonia, and other carbon-free resources.
Suga has said he will speed up research and development of critical technologies such as next-generation solar batteries and carbon recycling. He also promised to reduce Japan’s reliance on coal-fired energy by promoting conservation and maximizing renewables while promoting nuclear power.