Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced Thursday that Japan will target a 46% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 from 2013 levels, a sharp upgrade from the 26% cut that the world’s fifth-biggest emitter had pledged in July 2015.
“In line with 2050 goals, we aim for a 46% cut by fiscal 2030 as an ambitious target. We will continue to strive toward the higher goal of 50%,” Suga said at a government meeting. In October, he pledged Japan would reach carbon neutrality by 2050.
Suga’s announcement comes shortly before a key two-day virtual climate summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden kicks off Thursday Washington time. Biden is expected to pledge an ambitious 2030 target in hopes of having the leaders of dozens of invited countries, including China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, do the same.
Media reports say the U.S., the world’s second-biggest polluter, was likely to commit to slashing emissions by at least half by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. The Barack Obama administration had pledged a cut of around 26% to 28% by 2025 from 2005 levels.
The Japan Climate Initiative, with the support of 208 companies, 22 local governments and 60 nongovernmental and other organizations, had called on the government on Monday to declare a more ambitious target of 50% to better represent Japan’s position of responsibility as an advanced economy and put it more in line with the goals of Europe and the U.S.
The announcement also comes less than a week after Suga’s talks with Biden in Washington led to an agreement to promote multilateral efforts to meet the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement, which calls on nations to make all efforts to keep the average global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius.
Japan was initially planning to unveil new 2030 reduction goals ahead of the key U.N. COP26 meeting in Glasgow, Scotland, in November.
Many nations are facing renewed pressure to target more ambitious cuts in emissions for 2030 that scientists say are crucial to keeping the daunting challenge of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050 possible.
On Tuesday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson committed his country to a 78% cut by 2035 from 1990 levels, which he dubbed as the world’s most ambitious target.
The European Union has also adopted a 2030 reduction target of at least 55% from 1990 levels, piling pressure on top emitter China and other top polluters — including India, which has committed to a 33% to 35% reduction in emissions intensity, based on its gross domestic product, by 2030 from 2005 levels — to make further commitments.
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