• Kyodo

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The government began its annual "Warm Biz" energy-saving campaign Monday, encouraging people to take environmentally friendly steps in beating the winter cold.

Under the campaign running through March, the Environment Ministry is asking people to set their room temperatures to 20 degrees Celsius. Some officials were seen wearing sweaters, while others covered their laps with blankets.

This year's seasonal campaign came after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga recently pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 in his first policy speech in the Diet since taking office in mid-September.

"I want to encourage people to dress warmly so as not to rely on heating," said Keiichi Kikuchi, the head of the ministry's division in charge of the campaign, while noting the importance of room ventilation to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.

The government-led campaign started in 2005 to promote energy conservation to help mitigate global warming. Wearing layered clothing, using thermal insulation in buildings and the promotion of energy-saving home appliances are among the options encouraged.

Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi said last week that starting from next year the government will no longer set dates for when to run "Warm Biz" and will leave companies and individuals to follow their own lead.

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