Even with help from friends and governments around the world, ECO can’t quite convey its outrage at Japan’s latest actions. The newly revised 2020 target announced by Japan yesterday is a 3.1% increase of carbon emissions compared to 1990 levels. That’s a huge increase from Japan’s Kyoto first commitment period target (-6% from 1990). The new target allows Japan to revert to business-as-usual by 2020. Forget about climate – welcome to the race to the bottom.
Even more surprising is that Japan seems to consider the target ‘ambitious’ based on its announcement materials. ECO wonders if Japan forgot the qualifier ‘raising’ that goes along with the ‘ambition.’ It’s simple maths, really. Targets should be in line with reducing the risk of devastating climate change (staying well below 2°C). When Japan decreased its target, it abdicated its ambition, further widening the gigatonne gap and leaving it for others will have to fill.
A growing number of people are fasting with a hope to have meaningful outcome from this COP, but Japan is betraying them and putting vulnerable countries in greater danger.
According to the Climate Action Tracker, the revision of the target will add another 356 MtCO2e/year to the atmosphere and widen the global emissions gap by 3-4%. That is a measurable burden for all those who live with the reality of climate change every day, when the world instead needs decisive and immediate actions to raise ambition, not to lower it.
The Government of Japan attributes the rollback of ambition to the shutdown of nuclear power plants, but that isn’t the real story. There are plenty of options such as energy efficiency and renewable energy that can reduce Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions in order for Japan to keep its 25% reduction pledge.
What’s missing in Japan is political will and a heart to care; in its place, a soul-less industrial lobby. The official responses to Japan from the EU, AOSIS and the UK declared deep disappointment and cautions about the ramifications on international mitigation action. People rushed to Japanese embassies to show their condemnation.
Japan should know this will render it being considered irrelevant in these talks. It’s heading in the direction of its Brolly colleague Canada. It no longer has skin in the game, nothing to play with and no political leverage. Japan needs to reconsider its target immediately, upward and forward.
Still, there is one more thing. This has been announced as a "tentative" target. In due course, a chance remain for Japan to come back with a truly ambitious target in order to build momentum to close the gap – and not relying on or making excuses because of nuclear. Don’t drop the ball, Japan!