On Aug. 4, the Ministry of Environment (MOE) and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) released an amendment to the Plan for Global Warming Countermeasures with an eye to achieving the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 46% in fiscal 2030 compared with fiscal 2013 levels. The new plan seeks to achieve greater emissions reductions than the existing targets in each sector, including a 38% reduction from fiscal 2013 levels in the transport sector and a 50% reduction in the commercial sector.
This was the first amendment to the plan since it was compiled in 2016. In October 2020, Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions in Japan to net zero by 2050. In April 2021, he presented reduction targets for fiscal 2030 to achieve that goal. The two ministries considered specifically how much emissions should be reduced in the individual sectors and what kinds of measures are feasible for each sector and policy.
Japan’s total greenhouse gas emissions in fiscal 2013 were 1.408 billion ton carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent and Japan needs to cut 648 million tons. The draft Plan for Global Warming Countermeasures released by the government on July 26 to achieve the overall 46% cut in greenhouse gas emissions featured a 37% cut in the industrial sector, including factories, through such measures as the introduction of a large amount of renewable energy sources and a 66% reduction in the residential sector.
The two ministries also presented further breakdowns. For example, the breakdowns of the reductions for each policy proposed at an expert panel meeting held on the morning of Aug. 4 call on the transport sector, which accounts for 16% of the total emissions, to reduce the 77 million tons of CO2 released by cargo vehicles and trucks in fiscal 2013 to 11.8 million tons in fiscal 2030 by streamlining operations with the introduction of large trucks. This accounts for 1% of the 46% reduction target.
The plan also emphasizes the spread of electric vehicles (EVs), which will contribute a 2% reduction to the 46% target. The ratio of next-generation vehicles in new car sales will be increased from the 23% recorded in fiscal 2013 to 50-70% in fiscal 2030. Also, approximately 25 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions will be cut, as the fuel economy is expected to improve. The entire transport sector will also work on reducing traffic congestion and cut emissions by 38% in fiscal 2030 from fiscal 2013 levels. The previous reduction goal for the sector was 28%.
A 40% emissions reduction in fiscal 2030 from fiscal 2013 levels had been envisioned for the “commercial and others” sector, which includes office buildings. But the new plan revised the target upward to 50%. Seventy percent of greenhouse gas released by this sector comes from electricity consumption. The ministries concluded that if the percentage of decarbonized power sources, consisting of nuclear power generation and renewable energy sources, account for 50-60% of Japan’s energy mix in fiscal 2030, a significantly larger cut in emissions can be realized. The ministries will also urge those in the sector to promote the spread of energy-saving air conditioning and the improvement of insulation efficiency.
The new plan also suggested target values that can be achieved through a fuel shift in the manufacturing and sales industries. It concluded that a shift to gas, which has lower greenhouse gas emissions than coal and heavy oil, will reduce emissions by 2.06 million tons in fiscal 2030 from fiscal 2013 levels. (Abridged)