• Kyodo

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Japan is looking to raise its 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target to at least 40% compared with fiscal 2013 levels, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.

The move, a drastic increase from the government’s original target of slashing emissions by 26%, comes ahead of a meeting between Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and U.S. President Joe Biden on April 16, and a virtual summit on climate change to be hosted by Biden on April 22 and 23.

The 2030 target, which the government aims to finalize by the Group of Seven summit in June, is a cornerstone of Suga’s goal of making Japan a net-zero-emissions economy by 2050.

Japan is seeking to set a new target at a time when the European Union has already raised its reduction target and the United States is expected to announce a new target by this month’s virtual summit.

The European Union has raised its 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reduction target to at least 55% compared with 1990, while Britain has lifted its goal to 68%.

Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi said last month that the government plans to present “a 2030 reduction target in line with the 2050 goal” of carbon neutrality.

While the environment ministry is proposing an ambitious target of reducing emissions by 45%, the industry ministry, which places importance on setting targets based on concrete policies, is pushing for a more conservative 35%.

The government is also aiming to increase the use of natural gas-fired power plants, which emit relatively less carbon dioxide during thermal power generation, and reduce dependency on inefficient coal plants.

It is also considering expanding renewable energy projects in line with the new reduction target.

Japan had previously planned to finalize its new 2030 target by the 26th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in November, but Suga decided to bring it forward based on developments in the international community.

Japan’s pledge for carbon neutrality is forcing a growing number of Japanese companies to look at how they can make a bigger contribution to curbing global warming.

According to a recent survey by Teikoku Databank Ltd., the percentage of companies that regard efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions as part of their social corporate responsibility or as necessary to build “good relations” with stakeholders was higher among big companies than smaller ones.

The Japan Business Federation, the nation’s powerful business lobby known as Keidanren, regards achieving carbon neutrality as a formidable challenge and is stressing the need to tackle it by promoting the use of hydrogen, electric cars and new innovations.

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