Japan’s new Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga used his first policy address to parliament to declare that Japan, the world’s third largest economy after the United States and China, has set a deadline – the year 2050 – to end its emission of polluting greenhouse gasses.
“We will bring the total amount of gree nhouse gas (emitted by Japan) to net zero by 2050, meaning carbon neutral,” he said. “I declare we aim to realize a decarbonized society.”
Japan thus became the second country to set a concrete deadline to achieve carbon neutrality. The first was China whose President Xi Jinping announced to the world in his speech before the United Nations General Assembly last month that China will go carbon neutral by 2060.
It was in December, 2015, that the nations of the world agreed in Paris, France, to reduce the carbon emissions from their industries to keep the rise in global temperature from rising more than 1.5 degrees Celsius over per-industrial levels. This would substantially reduce the risks of climate change which had begun to melt the polar ice, raising ocean levels.
Under the Paris agreement, each county submitted a plan for a “nationally determined contribution” to the total effort to mitigate global warming. The Philippines sent its own national plan for increased use of renewable sources of energy, such as solar, geothermal, and wind power, and less dependence on highly polluting coal plants.
The United States, second to China in the carbon pollution emitted by their industries, withdrew from the Paris agreement in 2017. The new President Donald Trump reportedly did not believe in climate change and, in any case, was out to protect the interests of the coal miners who were part of his support base.
Nothing much was heard about the Paris agreement in the next few years as each county grappled with its own problems of development. Then last month, in his address to the UN, China’s President Xi surprised the world with his announcement of a concrete plan for China to totally stop its contribution to world pollution by 2060. This Monday, China’s Communist leadership met to discuss Xi’s pledge before the UN. It will now revamp its new five-year plan, to take effect in 2021, to help meet President Xi’s goal of carbon neutrality by 2060.
Japan has now followed suit, the second country to make a concrete pledge with a definite goal of zero carbon emission by 2050. The two Asian nations with the biggest contributions to carbon pollution and climate change have come out with deadlines that the whole world will be able to check.
The other nations might want to match these pledges with their own, especially the other top polluting nations of Europe and the Americas.