On Monday 26 October, Prime Minister Suga pledged in his first general policy speech to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions in Japan to net zero by 2050. This new target replaces the existing commitment to reduce emissions by 80 percent by the same date and brings Japanese climate ambitions in line with the EU and other countries, cities, regions, and businesses pursuing neutrality.
Local and regional governments in Japan have been leading the way in committing to carbon neutrality by 2050. With support from ICLEI Japan, through efforts such as multilevel dialogues, local governments have been actively engaging with national government to achieve more ambitious national climate commitments.
The Governor of Nagano Prefecture, Mr. Abe Shuichi, who acts as Chair for the project team to promote Zero Carbon Society within the National Governors’ Association, compiled a set of Urgent Recommendations with the support of 34 other prefectures which he delivered to the Ministry of Environment, the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Cabinet Secretariat in August 2020. The recommendations state that the national government should take a leadership role in actively working on climate change countermeasures and declare zero carbon by 2050.
The commitment to a zero carbon future was reiterated by Governor Abe during his address at ICLEI’s Daring Cities “Daring To Go Climate Neutral” discussion on 14 October, where he outlined the mitigation efforts Nagano prefecture has taken after declaring climate emergency in December 2019.
Minister Koizumi, the Japanese Minister for the Environment, joined live for the Daring Cities “Driving the Green Recovery and Redesign” panel discussion on 21 October, where he agreed with the importance of zero carbon cities, announcing that Japan will host the global Zero Carbon City Forum in early 2021, and expressed his ambition to create a more sustainable and resilient society which provides economic growth post COVID-19.
“The Forum will provide an opportunity for local governments all over the world aiming for net zero carbon emissions to share advanced approaches and challenges, facilitating concrete actions” Koizumi said. Adding “I expect this forum to be a driving force of the UNFCCC’s Race to Zero campaign.”
Though local governments will play a key role in this transition, Prime Minister Suga’s announcement shows that national government is taking a leading role in delivering on international environmental commitments.
ICLEI is recognized by the Japanese Ministry of Environment as a leading partner in supporting the momentum of local governments. Japan’s commitment to net zero must be followed by concrete measures to cut emissions, but it represents already represents a success for the local authorities across Japan that have been working to see their motivation and commitment to a net zero future be reflected in government action at the national level. ICLEI will continue to facilitate the exchange between local, regional and national government representatives.
Read more about how cities are accelerating the Race to Zero