By Okada Ei
On April 26, the Ministry of the Environment (MOE) announced it has selected 26 “pilot decarbonization areas,” which are comprised of a total of 48 local governments in 19 prefectures, to be the first group of local governments to aim for achieving net zero carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 2030.
The MOE called for applications between January and February 2022 and received 79 applications from 102 local governments. The applications described the target areas and facilities as well as the methods that will be used to reduce emissions to net zero. An expert panel evaluated the plans based on nine criteria, including CO2 reduction and impact on the resolution of regional issues, such as agriculture or disaster prevention. The MOE made the final selection based on the panel’s input.
The selected areas will be eligible to receive a government grant that will subsidize up to 75% of the equipment maintenance costs associated with the introduction of renewable energy. The government plans to select more than 100 regions nationwide by FY2025. The MOE will make a second call for applications this summer, with the goal of selecting more “pilot decarbonization areas” in the fall. (Abridged)