Japan should set a higher goal for cutting greenhouse gas emissions to fight global warming and bring them to effectively zero in the second half of the 21st century, a government panel said Tuesday.
The government plans to draft a long-term climate change strategy based on the proposal before Japan hosts the Group of 20 summit in late June.
The country has upheld a long-term goal of slashing emissions by 80 percent by 2050 from 2013 levels. But the panel of experts said the country needs to make a “new shift” in its efforts toward fighting global warming.
The country should aim to achieve the “ultimate goal of a carbon-free society at the earliest possible time during the second half of this century,” the proposal said.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at the meeting of the panel, which included professors and corporate executives, “We hope to accelerate the virtuous cycle of taking environmental measures and promoting growth, and trigger a paradigm shift in the world.”
In a set of proposals, the panel said Japan should “show contributions” to achieve the goal of the Paris agreement, which is to keep the rise in average global temperatures to less than 2 C compared to pre-industrial levels to mitigate the impact of climate change, which includes droughts, floods and rising sea levels.
The panel also called for greater use of renewable energy and to reduce the country’s reliance on coal-fired thermal power generation as much as possible.
But the panel stopped short of demanding the end of coal-fired power generation, with Japan building new plants despite international criticism. The proposal instead encouraged the development of technologies to capture and store carbon dioxide emissions.
While Japan is striving to promote the use of hydrogen as an alternative energy source to fossil fuel, the panel pointed to the need to reduce production costs.
Discussions on putting a price on carbon emissions through such means as carbon taxes have met resistance, mainly from business circles.
The panel proposal declined to take sides on the issue, saying it needs further “professional and technical discussions.”
Tackling climate change is one of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030. The goals range from reducing poverty to improving health care and education. Abe has said Japan will lead global discussions toward attaining the goals.