• Kyodo

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Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped in fiscal 2020 for the seventh straight year to a record low, reflecting smaller energy consumption by companies as the COVID-19 pandemic slowed economic activities, government data showed Friday.

The equivalent of 1.149 billion tons of carbon dioxide was emitted in the year through March 2021, down 5.1% from the previous year to rewrite the previous low recorded in fiscal 2019 after the government started compiling data in fiscal 1990, according to preliminary data released by the Environment Ministry.

Emissions in fiscal 2020 marked an 18.4% drop compared with the level in fiscal 2013, far off from Japan’s new goal of a 46% cut by fiscal 2030 as submitted by the government to the United Nations in October.

The target had been lifted from the previous commitment of a 26% reduction compared with fiscal 2013.

“We would like to expand renewable energy and accelerate introduction of thermal insulation measures for homes,” a ministry official said.

In fiscal 2020, the industry sector reduced energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by 8.3% from a year earlier, while such emissions in the transport sector and service providers fell 10.2% and 4.1%, respectively.

Meanwhile, the household sector marked a 4.9% increase in emissions, likely reflecting an expansion in teleworking and online classes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In the country’s power supply mix, renewables expanded to account for 19.8% thanks to the expansion of photovoltaic, while nuclear power stood at 3.9%, as many nuclear plants remained offline under stricter safety regulations implemented after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami.

The ratio of coal fire, criticized for high carbon dioxide emissions, decreased to 31%, down 1 percentage point from a year earlier, according to the data.

The use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), super greenhouse gasses used in refrigeration and air conditioning, among others, rose 4.4% from a year earlier.

The ministry aims to strengthen collection and disposal regulations of HFCs and others.

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