• Japan and South Korea announce 2050 net-zero targets

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

As foreshadowed in the previous edition of the Combustion Industry News, the government of Japan has announced a 2050 target to make the nation a net-zero, but more of a surprise has been that the government of South Korea announced its own version of the target the day after. The announcements come two weeks after the fourth Ministerial Meeting of the Coalition of Finance Ministers for Climate Action, where UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on countries to “send a clear and unambiguous signal to markets that the decarbonization of the global economy is inevitable”. Additionally, they come four weeks after China’s announcement of a 2060 ‘carbon neutrality’ target, giving real pace to the rate of such declarations. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said during his announcement that responding to “climate change is no longer a constraint on economic growth”, and pointed to speeding up research and development spending on next-generation solar batteries and carbon recycling, while promising to “fundamentally change Japan’s long-term reliance on coal-fired energy”. Japan’s new goal is a step up from its previous goal of an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, and one suspects many nations will announce ‘upgrades’ to their plans in coming years. South Korean President Moon Jae-in, in making his announcement, said “We will replace coal power with renewable energy, creating new markets and industries as well as jobs.” The South Korean target is something of a follow-up to its earlier announcement this year of a ‘Green Deal’ stimulus package to promote clean technologies, such as hydrogen and renewables. None of the reports are clear about whether the targets are net zero greenhouse gas emissions or strictly carbon dioxide, but one assumes they are the former.