Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s long-awaited pledge Monday to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 offers hope in the uphill fight against global warming, but climate scientists and advocates fear the plan may lack the means and vision to actually realize decarbonization, much less kindle the national response needed to combat the climate crisis.
“With the economy and the environment situated as two pillars of the country’s growth, my administration will make the utmost effort to achieve a green society,” Suga said during a policy speech at the Diet on Monday. “It needs to be understood that global warming countermeasures could transform the economy and foster growth, not hinder it.”
Observers say Japan’s decision was likely influenced by recent climate pledges from China and the United States. In September, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that Beijing would aim to become carbon neutral by 2060. In the U.S., former vice president and presidential candidate Joe Biden put forward a plan that he says ensures the country will achieve a “100% clean energy economy” and reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.