National / Science & Health

Over 100 firms, local governments and private groups in Japan unite against climate change

by Sarah Suk

Staff Writer

More than 100 companies, local governments and private organizations launched a group Friday to push for a carbon-free society and to help raise Japan’s presence in the global fight against climate change.

The Japan Climate Initiative plans to work with fellow non-state actors in other parts of the world to overcome the challenges of global warming and delivering on the commitments within the 2015 Paris accord, which aims to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions effectively to zero in the latter half of this century.

Members said the group will work with similar organizations around the world, including the “We Are Still In” movement in the United States that was created after President Donald Trump announced last year that Washington will pull out of the Paris agreement.

“When the Kyoto Protocol, the first international agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, was concluded, Japan was certainly on the front lines of the world’s measures against climate change,” said the JCI’s declaration, referring to the accord adopted in the ancient capital in 1997.

“But 20 years later, today, it is difficult to say that Japan is playing a leading role,” it added. “We believe Japan should and can take on a larger role in realizing a carbon-free society, centering on energy efficiency and expansion of renewable energies.”

As of Friday, the group comprises 105 entities, including major firms from various industries such as retailer Aeon Co., seasonings-maker Ajinomoto Co., telecommunications firm NTT Docomo Inc. and electronics manufacturer Panasonic Corp.

Local governments such as the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the cities of Kyoto and Yokohama are also part of the new initiative, as are organizations including the Renewable Energy Institute, founded by SoftBank Group Corp. Chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son.

“The world has entered an era of new international competition in the 21st century led by the Paris accord,” said Takejiro Sueyoshi, special adviser to the United Nations Environment Program Finance Initiative in the Asia-Pacific region, who spearheaded the establishment of JCI.

“We want to boost the momentum in Japan and eventually lead the world in this effort,” he told a news conference at the Nippon Press Center in Tokyo.

The group plans to hold a meeting to be joined by CEOs of Japanese companies and heads of local governments across the country in October in Tokyo to discuss ways to proceed with the movement in Japan.

It will also work with related ministries and agencies within the central government to reinforce the country’s efforts in tackling climate change, according to Teruyuki Ono, executive director of the Renewable Energy Institute.