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% reduction pledged in July 2015, Osamu Tsukimori reports.

Suga’s announcement came shortly before a key virtual climate summit hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden kicked off. There, Biden went one better, pledging the world’s largest economy would cut emissions by at least 50% by 2030 compared with 2005 levels.

Combined with announcements expected by other leaders, the White House said that nations have now committed to action to keep the planet’s temperature within 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial times, the level scientists say is needed to avoid the most severe effects of climate change.

Observer on Biden's climate change summit | CNA
Observer on Biden’s climate change summit | CNA

Yet concerns remain about whether the U.S. can keep such promises if a different presidential candidate wins in 2024, and there are questions over Biden’s ability to get No. 1 emitter China to agree to a strong target, writes Eric Johnston.

China’s “air pollution control could directly affect our people’s health and society,” Japan’s environment minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, told a summit in New York last week. “We are calling on China to move ahead of its 2060 carbon neutral pledge, and to urgently peak-out their emissions.”