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COP26: Japan urged to increase national climate targets

Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) under the Climate Action Network (CAN) in Japan have called on the Japanese government to substantially increase its national climate targets in line with the science and to cease all new fossil fuel production.

Shinzo Abe
Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe. Photo credit: telegraph.co.uk

The campaigners made the call at a press conference on Wednesday, February 5, 2020. 

With only nine months to go to COP26, the annual UN climate talks in Glasgow, UK, speakers at the briefing reiterated that current national climate targets are abysmally low. They urged the government to hold a public consultation to enhance the country’s nationally determined contributions in an inclusive and effective way and to lead on global efforts to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Despite UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres asking countries, particularly developed countries, to end their addiction to coal and cease building new coal power plants, Japan is set to build 22 new coal plants over the next five years.

This move, said the activists, would undermine the transition to a zero-carbon future and lock in dangerous emissions for decades to come.

They emphasised that, as a member of the G7, the international community expects Japan to lead on climate action by stop funding fossil fuels; submit national climate targets prior to COP26 year that live up to the UN’s call for countries to urgently close the emissions gap; and support developing countries to implement and update their climate plans.

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Kimiko Hirata, International Director, Kiko Network/ Representative, CAN-Japan, said: “Japan’s current greenhouse gas emission target for 2030 is a mere 26% reduction from 2013 levels. This is totally insufficient to combat the climate crisis we face. Japan has been lagging behind in climate action for years and causing increased carbon dioxide emissions by producing coal power in Japan and overseas.

“It is crucial for Japan to review its position and raise its 2030 target to at least 45-50% reduction from the 1990 level and 2050 target for net zero to be in line with the Paris goal. This needs to be fully reflected in the enhanced nationally determined contribution (NDCs).” 

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Naoyuki Yamagishi, Climate and Energy Group Leader, Conservation Division, WWF Japan: “In the midst of increasing concerns about climate crisis, resubmitting a nationally determined contribution without enhancement not only reaffirms Japan’s regressive stance on climate action but also sends a completely wrong and discouraging signal to many countries now going through the processes of considering revisions of NDCs for higher ambition.

“The government needs to listen to the voices from more than 220 sub national organisations, which signed on the statement by Japan Climate Initiative calling on the government to enhance its national climate targets.”

Taka Yokoyama, Leader, 350.org, Japan: “Taking a look at movements of global financial institutions, there is an apparent trend towards low-carbon society as recently announced by Goldman Sachs and BlackRock. Japan should get ready for the decarbonised society to be competitive in the global market. The government of Japan is responsible to support the readiness, which is to enhance nationally determined contributions to meet the 1.5-degree Celsius goal by cutting carbon dioxide emissions by half by 2030.”

Isao Sakai, member of Fridays For Future, Tokyo, and a high school student: “We demand a more ambitious NDC target which complies with the Paris Agreement for the future of all people including we, the youth and future generations, who must live in the world that politicians have the power to create.”

Tasneem Essop, Executive Director, Climate Action Network: “In this year of ambition, our eyes are fixed on major emitters and how they will address the climate emergency. We expect much more ambitious actions from Japan to contribute its fair share to reducing global emissions, addressing impacts and in responding to the urgent call by IPCC scientists to set the world on a path to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

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“It is alarming that the Japanese government continues to support the production of coal and is allowing 22 new coal power plants to be built in a climate emergency. This is unacceptable. Japan needs to urgently embark on the critical transformation its society and economy needs. Civil society will continue to mobilise and hold governments accountable and Japan is clearly in our sight.”

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