• Japan not prepared for new 46% carbon reduction by 2030 target, according to reports

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      Patrick Lavery

      Combustion Industry News Editor

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s announcement during last month’s Leaders’ Climate Summit that his country would reduce carbon-dioxide equivalent emissions by 46% by 2030 from 2013 levels has sparked panic in the Japanese bureaucracy, according to the Financial Times. Normally, a process of consensus building is a key part of Japanese policy setting, but Mr Suga apparently came to the reduction figure “with no consultation, little political debate and no analysis to suggest it is even possible”. This is likely to have consequences, as the public has not been “primed” for the sacrifices in consumption and lifestyle change they will need to make to achieve the target, while experts have openly questioned whether it is possible, and bureaucrats are “rushing” to turn the target into “concrete policy”. One member of the advisory panel in charge of devising the national energy strategy is reported as saying that the “government is in total confusion” and that the country “hasn’t done anything to prepare for this.”

An estimate by the Canon Institute for Global Studies is that each additional percentage point reduction in emissions would require costs of about one trillion yen (US$9.1 billion/€7.6 billion), meaning that the additional 20% (Japan moved from a 26% reduction target by 2030 to 46%) would cost something like 3.5% of GDP to 2030, much of the growth that would have expected to have added to quality of life improvements. This does not mean the new target has been wholly unwelcome, however, with a member of the government’s energy council saying that the previous target was too low. How Japan strategises in the coming months to try to position itself to meet the new target will be interesting indeed.