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PM Suga has called for Japan to be carbon neutral by 2050, but what is at risk if climate change is left unchecked? “Everything,” says Miguel Esteban, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Waseda University. “From an engineering point of view, it would probably be better to move everybody out of this country and resettle them elsewhere.”

Japan is notoriously susceptible to a wide range of natural disasters, explains Eric Margolis in his long read on the risks and possible remedies, and global warming will make all of these natural phenomena more common and more extreme.

As for how to decarbonize the country, academics Daniel P. Aldrich and Phillip Y. Lipscy stress that climate change is a marathon, not a sprint: Japan will make greater progress if these issues are not politicized and all key parties agree on emissions cuts as a common goal, they argue in a commentary.

Rescue workers search a flooded area in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis, which caused severe floods at the Chikuma River in Nagano Prefecture in October 2019. Climate change is predicted to make such disasters more frequent and severe. | REUTERS
Rescue workers search a flooded area in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis, which caused severe floods at the Chikuma River in Nagano Prefecture in October 2019. Climate change is predicted to make such disasters more frequent and severe. | REUTERS

With Suga’s 2050 goal set and President Joe Biden bringing the U.S. back into the Paris Agreement, a wave of momentum toward curtailing climate change is growing at home and abroad. And Japanese firms are following in that wake as they push forward plans to switch to renewable energy, writes Kazuaki Nagata.

Mitsubishi Estate, Tokyu Land and Yahoo Japan are among the major companies shifting their energy sources to renewables, as the need to be environmentally friendly is increasingly becoming a key factor in expanding their respective businesses.

Last week, a group of 92 corporations known as the Japan Climate Initiative urged ministers to go further and pledge to make 40-50% of energy use from renewable sources. “In order for Japan to meet its responsibilities to be one of the leaders in global efforts (against climate change), the target needs to be much more ambitious,” the companies, including big names like Sony, Panasonic and Nissan, said in a statement.

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